Daniella Helayel, of fashion label Issa, founded Issa nine years ago when she couldn’t find a dress suitable enough to take her from the office, to the beach, to a party. Now boasting Kate Middleton, Keira Knightley, Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and Madonna as fans, her signature print silk jersey dresses have become a fashion phenomenon and the label has grown to include lingerie, accessories, knitwear, swimwear and, launching in November, a baby and childrenswear line. StyleJunkee caught up with her to get the lowdown.
StyleJunkee: Talk me through what you’re wearing today?
Daniella Helayel: Today I’m wearing one of my all time favourite Issa dresses! I love it so much that I have included it in our Baby Issa collection which we are launching in November. Made of 100% cotton, in red and blue heart print (inspired by my doodles), it’s a comfortable, flattering, every day summer dress, which I could not live without! I have it in endless print variations and colours.
StyleJunkee: What are you inspired by?
Daniella Helayel: Everywhere I go I find inspiration. Whether it be walking down the street in London, gathering research in the library, sitting on a plane, diving in the ocean or walking my dogs in the park. I keep my Smythson notebook on hand at all times and jot ideas down as soon as they come into my head.
StyleJunkee: What’s been your career highlight so far?
Daniella Helayel: Seeing Madonna wearing Issa was a life-changing moment for me, she is an icon with incredible talent so seeing her wearing Issa brought me so much happiness. The article Tiffanie Darke wrote for The Sunday Times Style Magazine in 2006 was a pivotal moment in my career; she named Issa ‘the wonder dress’! It made me so happy! Seeing women of all ages and body shapes always bring me happiness and even more so if it’s people I greatly admire like Madonna and Naomi Campbell.
StyleJunkee: What will be the key pieces of your new Baby Issa collection and when will it be launching?
Daniella Helayel: I have always wanted to design clothes for children and, in fact, many of my original Issa designs were inspired by children’s dresses, like the ‘lucky dress’, for example. The collection of everyday, tea dresses, boys shorts, polo shirts, nighties and bikinis is playful, cute and made of 100% cotton – essential every day pieces for children from 0-12 years old, in joyful prints inspired by my doddles. Key pieces are a Baby Lucky dress, Baby Ella, Baby Mia, Baby Anja and Baby Kitty and printed shorts for boys.
StyleJunkee: Who is your target customer?
Daniella Helayel: For our mainline Issa London collection our target customer is a woman in her mid-thirties, with a hectic schedule – whether they are a housewife or a business executive, with a petite frame or a curvaceous body. I see my role as a designer to produce dresses which are flattering, sexy, comfortable and versatile. Baby Issa presents children with pretty every day dresses that are light, colourful and allow freedom of movement. Made from 100% cotton, the dresses are easy to wash and easy to wear – perfect for little ones always getting themselves into trouble!
StyleJunkee: What do you owe to your parents?
Daniella Helayel: My parents were always proud of me in whatever I did; I will never forget how happy that made me.
StyleJunkee: When are you happiest?
Daniella Helayel: I am happiest when at home surrounded by my closest friends; they are my extended family and I could not live without them.
StyleJunkee: What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Daniella Helayel: Keep dreaming and eventually your dreams will come true.
StyleJunkee: Who are your heroes in life?
Daniella Helayel: Coco Chanel – because she created a dream that is still living and is one of the most desirable! Also, Jacky O – because she creates a modern elegance and people will always remember her effortless glamour.
StyleJunkee: What would you be lost without and why?
Daniella Helayel: My Nokia E72 phone! It’s one of life’s essentials and I carry it whenever I go. It means that I can keep track of all of my appointments and meetings using the calendar as well as stay in touch with friends and family through email and calls no matter where I am in the world.
StyleJunkee: What’s your best beauty tip?
Daniella Helayel: Less is more! I keep it my beauty regime pretty simple and keep make-up to a minimum. I do my make-up in the back of a taxi before an event! During the summer I use Clarins sun block SPF 30 for my face every day – it’s so important to protect your skin from the sun.
StyleJunkee: And how would you sum up your style?
Daniella Helayel: My style is effortless glamour, I love dressing up for parties and special occasions and donning my Issa cape dress with Charlotte Olympia shoes and my Corto Moltedo clutch, but I equally enjoy a relaxed every day look in Haviannas, a cotton Issa dress and big Jackie O sunglasses. As long as I feel comfortable the rest falls into place!
Daniella has just teamed up with five-star resort Kanuhura to create this gorgeous poncho in aid of Harry Becher’s Too Many Women for Breakthrough Breast Cancer campaign.
With much thanks to Nokia for organising this interview. The Nokia E72 is a handset designed for those who want to stay stylishly connected. It gives people access to email on the move, instant messaging and mobile internet – as well as much, much more.