Think of the name Angels in relation to costumes, and your mind probably drifts to their warehouse of a shop on Shaftesbury Avenue, packed to the rafters with every possible variant of wig, fairy costume and face paint. However, Angels costumiers is a family business that has been around for 175 years, and in that time has dressed the most iconic figures in film, TV and theatre.
New and comprehensive exhibition Dressed by Angels is currently running at The Old Truman Brewery, and will give you an incredible insight into the wide range of productions Angels has been involved in. You have the sense of walking through time as you wander from foggy Dickensian streets, to glittering royal dresses, to the poly-blend wonder of 70s sitcoms. Getting so close to garments you’ve only ever seen on screen is thrilling, and also allows you to examine the intricacy of the costumes in detail.
A must for film, TV and theatre fans, the exhibition is extremely well-curated. Room after room yields a sparkling and recognisable range of delights. I couldn’t stop myself gasping at every costume – ‘that’s Margot’s dress from The Good Life! And that’s Captain Mainwaring! IT’S INDIANA JONES!’ The entire exhibition is a joy, and it’s possible to lose yourself for hours in layers that tell you as much about the social history of the last few decades as well as the arts.
Instagrammers take note: you may take photos as you go around as long as flashes remain off. However, it’s even better to put your phone away and just get fully immersed in costumes that are as reassuringly familiar to you as your own wardrobe. If you’ve seen ANY film or TV show in the last 50 years, chances are you’ll spot a costume from it here. Want to see Tom Baker’s Doctor Who scarf? Darth Vader? Sgt. Pepper’s? They’re all here.
Dressed by Angels is one of the best costume exhibitions London has seen in a while, and the best possible way for any arts lover to spend the afternoon. Tickets are available through the exhibition website, and drop them a tweet at @DressedbyAngels.