"Goddess." Daniella Helayel was unequivocal in her description of the woman who inspired her new collection. With Malcolm Edwards' orchid-wrapped hairstyles and Val Garland's glossy-lipped maquillage offering sterling support, Helayel's female deity could have slithered straight off one of those Roxy Music covers that defined sophisticated womanly allure in the seventies. That was both a strength and a weakness. As seductive as the vision Helayel presented on the catwalk was, it was essentially one note: entrance-making va-voom. Though the designer was quick to say there were more workaday looks back in the showroom, the suspicion will always linger that Issa is fundamentally about that one note. That's because Brazilian-to-the-last-pore-of-her-honeyed-skin Helayel nails it so convincingly. As she herself said with a gust of laughter, "You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl."
Issa's first foray into the digital world covered floating georgette caftans with huge prints of an Amazonian Garden of Eden. Tiered full-length smocks could pass for rain-forest hostess wear. A gown draped over one shoulder and a halterneck jumpsuit were edgier—Sharon Stone in Casino, say. Another gown, also halternecked and printed in a negative image of dark green leaves, hinted at dramatic shadows in the eternal sunshine of Helayel's Edenic Brazil. It was all the better for such depth.