An Interview with Daniella Helayel

Brazilian designer, entrepreneur and DHELA founder Daniella Helayel on entering a stylish new era with her new fashion label

How would you describe your new label DHELA?

It is an evolution of me and my style. It is for a glamorous, global woman who is looking for timeless, elegant styles to take her from day to dinner.

How does DHELA differ to Issa?

It is still my style and design DNA, but at the same time it is an evolution and the next step. With DHELA I’m very interested in developing knitwear styles and working with technology that didn’t exist whilst I was at Issa.

My design philosophy when I founded Issa in 2001 was to create well cut, timeless clothes that would empower women and make them feel confident in their own skin. This has never changed and never will. I design for women to feel the best version of themselves; to look glamorous, beautiful and elegant while being able to get on with their lives, whether they be businesswomen, mothers or dressing for a party.

Both brands focus on beautiful, flattering shapes, gorgeous colours, lots of prints and bringing a bit of easy elegance to women’s wardrobes. DHELA is very much about who I am right now.

What lessons did you learn from your experience setting up Issa? Do you feel that you are starting from scratch with DHELA or it is almost a continuation of your original brand?

Having founded a globally successful company at Issa I am definitely in a stronger position to deal with all the challenges that will come with DHELA. Nothing beats experience and I’ve seen every part of the process from the very first mood boards of a collection to the shop floor. I grew up with Issa, learning along the way, making mistakes and finding solutions.

However, it is important to remember that the world is changing rapidly. Things like social media, online shopping and shopping straight from the runway simply didn’t exist when I started Issa. The only way we can face new problems or questions is with an open mind and fresh perspective. This is a new label and a new era; I want to look forward, not back.

What inspires your designs?

The world around me! Glamorous women, architecture, art, music, travel and bright colours. I’m very inspired by nature these days, which is why I’m really determined to give back to it through my work.

Who do you think DHELA will appeal to?

A busy international, elegant woman. Someone who has enough in her life to worry about without having to worry about her wardrobe. My clothes work hard for the women wearing them, to take them from a boardroom to a dinner date seamlessly.

What are your personal highlights from the SS17 collection?

I’m particularly fond of the long knitwear dresses and have worn the styles to several events myself. They are fantastic as they ensure you are the centre of attention, look fantastic and show off your figure while simultaneously being extremely comfortable and easy to wear.

When did you first develop an interest in fashion?

I think it’s always been there in me. I started making dresses with my grandmother in Brazil when I was just a little girl, cutting them out of paper and making them for my dolls.

Finally, you’re about to launch your first standalone store in Tokyo. Could you tell us a bit about this and what plans you have for DHELA over the coming year?

I definitely see DHELA as an international brand. It will have a strong resort and holiday presence; I love designing for warmer climates thanks to my Brazilian heritage and it comes very naturally to me. I’ve been fortunate that my designs have always appealed to women from around the world, and in this era of globalisation I don’t see any boundaries for the DHELA woman.

We already have two shops confirmed for opening in Japan in February 2017; one on Roppongi Hills and one inside Mitsukoshi. We are planning the next outlets at the moment and I hope to see many more – this is just the beginning!