Angels The Costumiers
1 Garrick Road, London NW9 6AALondon, UK
Angels is a supplier of costumes based in London, England to the film, theatre and television industries, as well as to the general public. The company, founded in 1840, is the longest-established costume supplier in the world, and has supplied costumes to 33 films that have received Best Costume Oscars, including the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland.
Since its founding the company has stayed in family ownership for six consecutive generations, and is currently run by Chairman Tim Angel, OBE (Former Chairman, BAFTA; Former Governor, BFI) and his three children, Emma (Director of Fancy Dress), Daniel (Head of Costume) and Jeremy (Creative Director).
Morris Angel started his business in 1840 in the Seven Dials area of London, near Covent Garden, selling second-hand clothing and tailors’ samples from Savile Row. Morris Angel's shop became popular with theatrical actors, who at that time had to purchase their own clothes and costumes for auditions and performances. It was a request from actors to hire rather than buy outfits for the duration of a performance that began the business model that remains in use by the company today.
Morris Angel brought his son Daniel into the business in 1870, and seven years later, the family opened a shop at 119 Shaftesbury Avenue which still houses Angels Fancy Dress nearly 150 years later.
Cinema and the Oscars
With the advent of cinema, the Angel family made its second major diversification by supplying costumes to the new movie industry. Angels supplied its first Academy Award-winning costumes to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet in 1948. To date, 32 Best Costume Oscars have followed for work that the company has undertaken on major international films, including Star Wars, Titanic, Lawrence Of Arabia, The Great Gatsby, The Aviator, Memoirs of a Geisha and Marie Antoinette.
The business currently has two divisions: Angels The Costumiers, based in North London, which supplies costumes to the entertainment industry, and Angels Fancy Dress, suppliers of fancy dress to the general public.
The Angels warehouse in Hendon, North London, where the majority of their costume collection is stored, houses an estimated 1 million items on approximately 8 miles of rails. Angels now runs public tours twice a month.
The shop now houses four floors of fancy dress costumes available to purchase and hire. Angels Fancy Dress also sells costumes online.
In September 2005, the original cloak worn by Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi in George Lucas’s Star Wars film was rediscovered hanging on the rails at Angels. Having been unwittingly available to the general public for some time as a monk’s robe as well as being used as a crowd scene costumes in films including The Mummy, the provenance of the piece was confirmed by John Mollo, who created the item for the film in 1977, and received an Oscar for his efforts.
The Obi Wan Kenobi cloak was auctioned by Bonhams in London on March 6, 2007 for £55,000. It formed part of a sale of 400 lots from the Angels archive – alongside costumes from James Bond, Dr Who, and Highlander, as well as items worn onscreen by Ava Gardner, Erroll Flynn and David Niven.
Until 1966 Angels was also the tailor to the military and diplomatic services, and now houses a collection of military and civilian uniforms.
- "Oscar Fever grips London costume supplier Angels". BBC London. 16 February 2012.
- Laverty, Chris. "Behind the Scenes at Angels the Costumiers". Clothes On Film. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "UK Family Firm behind Oscars hits". Reuteurs. 24 February 2012.
- "Obi-Wan Kenobi cloak rediscovered". BBC News. 9 June 2005.
- "Star Wars cloak in costume sale". BBC News. 2007-01-29.
- Bhat, Devika (6 March 2007). "Timelord's frockcoat cleans up at auction". Times Online.
- "60 Seconds with Issa’s Daniella Helayel". Wall Street Journal. 11 February 2012.
- "Behind the Scenes at Angels". Offscreen Magazine. Retrieved 31 January 2011.