"The glamour girl decided to wipe off her makeup, go on a trek to the desert, and get some fresh air," Daniella Helayel said backstage at the Fall Issa show. Tapestry prints, geometric jackets, and glam wool felt fedoras with three-foot feather twills will all appeal to the Issa girl—a representation of whom appeared in the front row via the girl group the Saturdays. Yet pare it down and there was some really hard work at play: A jacquard knit turned out to be less sloppy, more structural. A heavy crepe de chine dress in a burnt orange with cut mirrors and crystals was a tour de force of embroidery. The curly Mongolian jackets and the boxy tapestry jackets all cried out for an open fire beneath the night sky.
In essence, this collection was all about the Issa woman on a spiritual retreat, cloaked in some high-luxe comfort. And all that is well and good, but don't forget that an Issa woman comes back from her retreat and re-toxes, and for that she needs some high-wattage glamour—think of the royal clients, after all. For them there were a red silk jersey gown (an Issa mainstay) and a "smoldering ember"-printed caftan with beaded fringe collar. Then there was a standout jade green maxi dress with gold Lurex threads that had models like Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn pausing to take a closer look backstage.
Since Camilla Al Fayed bought 51 percent of the company in 2011, Issa has turned into a juggernaut with no signs of abatement: The label's first shop opens in Tokyo in a few weeks, followed by Brazil in June. Helayel tells us this is her first collection that she feels is truly "directional," and indeed, if that direction is toward the cash register, Issa is certainly moving fast.