LONDON — Daniella Helayel, who briefly became the world’s most famous designer when Kate Middleton donned a royal blue jersey Issa dress the day her engagement to Prince William became public in 2010, has returned with a new women’s collection called Dhela.
Helayel, the founder and former creative director of Issa, will be selling her spring 2017 collection of breezy dresses, tops and trousers at Showroom Seven in New York starting Friday, and through the same showroom in Paris.
While the signature Helayel details are all there — the figure-flattering shapes, punchy colors and nature-inspired prints — this collection is a departure from the knee-grazing, jersey Issa dresses that were a mainstay of many a socialite’s wardrobe until Helayel exited the label in 2013.
“Dhela is very bohemian, laid-back, elegant — and there’s very little jersey,” said the Brazilian designer from her studio in southwest London. “It’s what I feel like right now — I want to wear long dresses — and some glitter. The clothes are meant for summer in St. Tropez or Ibiza.”
The collection is full of fabrics including crepe de chine, double georgette, stretch satin, cotton lace and silks adorned with fine silver or gold threads.
There are lightweight cotton caftans and belted shirt or tiered styles; long dresses with halter tops, fitted waists or cutout backs; wide-leg jumpsuits, pajama trousers; off-the-shoulder tops, and long skirts.
More fitted styles include A-line cotton lace dresses with long sleeves and high necks, scoop-neck ones with inset fabric bands at the waist, or Forties-inspired styles.
An orchid print — abstract, exploded or done in repeating patterns — runs through the collection. There are also lots of thick and thin diagonal stripes, while the color palette includes deep blue and green, red, fuchsia, faded pink and gold. The average price is about $500-$600 pounds ($667 to $801).
Helayel said her aim is to develop Dhela into a lifestyle brand. She’s already whipped up a few girls’ cotton dresses and tops so daughters can coordinate with mothers on the beach, and the next step will be a few pieces of men’s wear, including a Hawaiian-style shirt and swimming trunks.
“I want to create as many beautiful and flattering clothes as I can — and I have an overload of ideas,” said Helayel.
Helayel quit Issa two years after selling a 51 percent stake to Camilla Al Fayed, who shuttered the label last year. Over the past three years, Helayel pursued personal interests such as art and travel, did some design consulting, and most recently worked with the British high street retailer Monsoon on a capsule range of dresses resembling her old designs for Issa.
Helayel founded Issa in 2001, and at its height the label sold in 43 countries, at more than 350 doors.
She said the new collection’s name, Dhela, has multiple meanings. It’s a nod to her first and last names, and also a spin on the word “dela,” which means “hers” in Portuguese. The designer said this time around, the label will most definitely remain her own.
“No one is going to take it away,” she said.