Royal designer rocks London fashion week

Crédit photo: Suzanne Plunkett Royal designer rocks London fashion week

One of Kate Middleton's favourite designers rocked London Fashion Week Saturday with a collection of sweeping gowns in animal print with plunging necklines that would make a royal bride blush.

Issa London's autumn-winter 2011 collection was the hottest ticket in town after Kate wore their sapphire blue dress to announce her engagement to Prince William last November, prompting the frock to sell out almost instantly.

A packed crowd turned out to see if Kate herself would make an appearance for the catwalk show, but if they were disappointed by her no-show, Brazilian-born designer Daniella Helayel soon raised their spirits.

Embracing a seventies theme with gusto, Helayel kept to her trademark grown-up glamour with effortlessly stylish dresses in autumnal browns and oranges and bright animal prints sent out to a pumping disco soundtrack.

Whether full length gowns with boat or deep V-necks, or simple mid-thigh frocks, the clothes draped smoothly over the models' bodies as they strutted down the runway to classics such as "I'm Every Woman" and "Celebration".

The outfits were jazzed up with gold accessories, from big round earrings to bracelets, metal belts and draping necklaces worn on the front or on the back alongside the bare skin of cut-out backs.

In a recent interview with AFP, Helayel said the key to her clothes was "multi-function".

"They can be worn from morning till evening, from the office to dinner and updated only by changing the accessories," she said.

"Issa is all about effortless glamour, whether on the beach, in a board meeting or out for the evening. At Issa I make dresses to suit women of all different shapes, sizes and styles."

The designer used older models Yasmin Le Bon -- looking sexy and curvy in a blouse and skirt -- and Brazilian Andrea Dellal in an orange, floor-skimming dress with cut out back to showcase her broad appeal.

After designing the engagement frock, Helayel was briefly a favourite to design Kate's dress for the April 29 wedding at Westminster Abbey, but most commentators now believe the bride will pick a British designer.

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