Engagement announcement dress of Catherine Middleton
A full-body view of Catherine Middleton (left) in the blue Issa dress she wore at her engagement announcement to Prince William of Wales (right) at St. James's Palace.
|Designer||Daniella Issa Helayel|
|Type||Blue long-sleeved silk-jersey dress|
During the public announcement of her engagement to Prince William of Wales, on 16 November 2010, Catherine Middleton wore a blue Issa dress to coordinate with the sapphire engagement ring given to her by Prince William. The dress sold out within 24-hours of her appearance in it, and sparked a trend in "little blue dresses."
Brazilian-born London designer Daniella Issa Helayel, known for her eponymous Issa London label, has designed her versatile, form-fitting dresses under that name since 2001. A favourite of Middleton's for years prior to her engagement, she has been seen in Issa dresses through the years and has been called an "unofficial brand ambassador."
Issa's designs have been seen on celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, and Scarlett Johansson, as well as William's cousins, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. Middleton's sister Pippa has also been seen in Issa's clothing, including Kate's engagement dress design in a red colour, which she wore to an event in 2007. The last time Middleton wore an Issa dress was July 2011. Many suspect she dropped the label from her usual rotation of designers because that same month, Camilla Al-Fayed (sister of Dodi Al-Fayed, who had a romantic relationship with Diana, Princess of Wales and died in the same 1997 car crash) purchased a controlling stake in Issa. Though they have not publicly commented on the matter, the British royals are known to spurn associations with the Al-Fayed family, as Camilla and Dodi's father Mohamed has accused them of orchestrating Diana and Dodi's deaths.
Design and Middleton's debut
The dress has been described in colour as "sapphire," "navy," and "royal blue". The deep blue colour complemented Diana, Princess of Wales' sapphire engagement ring, which her son William presented to Middleton upon their engagement. The long-sleeved, low-cut wrap dress has been described as one of Issa's "classic silk jersey dresses", and along with the engagement ring, was paired with "simple black pumps" by Middleton.
Designer Issa told People that she was elated that Middleton had decided to wear her dress for the engagement announcement, stating:
We are thrilled with the engagement news and I’m very happy that she has chosen to wear Issa today... [s]he is a very pretty and lovely girl.
The dress became an instant hit and sold out almost immediately in both the US and the UK after its debut. Within 24-hours the dress (retailing at £385) completely sold out at London's Harvey Nichols store. Averyl Oates, the boutique's buying director, told Vogue: "The dress worn by Kate sold out almost immediately. Issa is one of our best selling brands and the versatility of the pieces mean that they can be dressed down for the day and dressed up for special occasions." In New York City, where the dress retails for about $615, Monique Erickson, buyer for Issa retailer Beyond 7, was quoted as saying: "People are going crazy for this dress... We have a wait list growing by the day." The dress's popularity helped boost sales by 45% for the Issa London label.
For those with a lower budget, a short-sleeved cotton replica of the dress by designer Florence + Fred was released in British supermarket chain Tesco for £16. The dress sold out within one hour of being placed on the Tesco website, and with limited stock available, the store expected to sell-out completely by the end of that week. Tesco's buying director Jan Marchant said: "Kate Middleton looked extremely elegant in her choice of outfit and many women wanted to find a high street replica of this now iconic dress. The rate at which the dress sold out online is testament to how influential Kate's style choices are."
A poll by celebrity style website MyCelebrityFashion.co.uk ranked the dress as the second most iconic outfit of 2010, beat out only by Lady Gaga's 2010 MTV Video Music Awards meat dress.
"Little Blue Dress" trend
Middleton's blue dress sparked a trend in "little blue dresses," as a more colourful alternative to the famous little black dress. According to Glamour contributing style editor Tracey Lomrantz, "Women saw (Middleton’s iridescent Issa dress) and thought, 'I want to look like her.'" The colour, with hues ranging "from iris to cerulean, navy to indigo and everything between," was spotted across the runways and retailers after the engagement announcement. Celebrities such as Tia Carrere, Kristen Bell, and Amy Smart were all spotted in shades of blue on the red carpet during the Spring 2011 season.
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