Angel’s Costume feels like stepping into another world as the magic of costume is alive in this BAFTA award-winning company as you step into what feels like an endless supply of costumes from all through the years and all over the world.
As someone with a huge interest in all the theatricalities of culture, I didn’t realise that Angel’s Costumes would be right up my street. The BAFTA award-winning costume house in London has created costumes for everything from Downton Abbey, to Wicked the Musical, Titanic and more. It’s a remarkable place that spans 8 miles worth of rails and over a million items.
The business itself spans all the way back to the 1880s when Daniel Angel, a young tailor from Frankfurt arrived in London and set up his business creating costumes for films and West End productions. Since then, it has continued to grow and is now the top costume company for everything from Peaky Blinders, to The National Theatre. Costumes made at Angel’s Costumes have won Oscars for ‘Best Achievement in Costume Design’ for productions such as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, The Young Victoria, Shakespeare In Love and many many more.
Upon arriving at Angel’s Costumes, it just feels like a swanky office and a standard warehouse on the outskirts of London, but it isn’t until you get inside are you really entranced by it all. The tours last about two hours and you are taken around in a small group of around 15 with an experienced tour guide. Mark led our group and he was full of insight and wisdom about the company and the industry itself.
Before embarking on the tour, Mark told us about the history of the tour and the way the business works. We were then taken into the working rooms, where people were creating and altering costumes. Mark told us that costumes being created are top secret and all are filed under code names.
We saw the ins and outs of everything, from precision involved in choosing everything up to the buttons on a shirt, to the trialling and testing that goes into creating a costume that both looks fit for purpose, but also will carry itself well. One of the most interesting rooms were where they held badges, such as embroidered military badges. Mark talked to us about how specific everything must be, and not a detail is overlooked when it comes to creating these costumes.
Not only do you see the costumes hanging on the rails, but they have stands with full costumes from recent films on display, such as Mary Poppins Returns and Bohemian Rhapsody. This was fascinating as you could see how superbly made they are and what it looks like up close.
We then saw the huge warehouse of clothes that had everything from dresses through the ages, to Santa Claus outfits and wedding dresses. Mark was a fantastic tour guide, because not only was he full of character and charisma, but he had the most extraordinary stories to tell along the way. Mark is brimming with knowledge and fills the two hours with facts and anecdotes. Not only this, but he makes the whole group feel at ease and creates a conversation between everyone.
He talked of the famous people he has bumped into coming in for their costume fittings, and the big secrets they’ve had to keep in the past, such as ‘Operation X’ for the latest John Lewis Christmas ad. Usually working on around 40 productions at a time, it really has the constant buzz of glamour and showbiz in the making.
The rooms at the top of the warehouse are incredibly interesting as they hold the accessories. This includes jewellery, hats, bags and stunning crowns. I can only imagine having the job where you get to rummage through all these beautiful things to finish off a costume. There is so much colour and sparkle, it is overwhelming to take in.
Angel’s Costumes is a place like no other as you get to delve into the pieces that bring the beauty to TV, films and theatre. It really is a magnificent experience that captures the real skill that goes into costume and the sheer work that goes into creating the perfect visuals for stage and screen. The tour is entirely compelling and a real eye-opener behind the scenes into the wonderful world of costume.
Find out more about Angel’s Costumes and their impressive tours on their website.