From Indiana Jones to Truly Scrumptious, the Dressed by Angels exibition offers Londoners a unique walk through the world of costume design and its development through the past couple of centuries.

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Original examples of livery from the 1920s

From its beginnings in the 19th Century Angels have made costumes and collected clothes that others no longer wanted.

The exhibition walks you through the history of the business, from its beginnings in 1840 as a secondhand shop to where it is now – supplying costumes for a range of TV and film, including Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.

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A clown costume fashioned on Grimaldi’s costumes

One of the first costumes you see on the tour is an 1860s clown jacket which was most likely fahsioned on the most famous clown of the time – Grimaldi.

Theres not many barriers between you and the costumes as you walk around and it’s really amazing to be able to have such an upclose look at so many iconic costumes.

Over 100 costumes are on display at the exhibton, carefully curated from the thousands in Angel’s back catalogue.

The iconic Ernst Stavro Blofeld costume from You Only Live Twice

The iconic Ernst Stavro Blofeld costume from You Only Live Twice

Carol Stenberg, a curator of the exhibition, explains why they chose each costume for the exhibition: “Some of them were chosen because they have a story to tell.

“I liked that some of them had such an interesting back story to them.”

Replicas of Rose and Jacks costumes from the iconic final scenes of Titanic

Replicas of Rose and Jacks costumes from the iconic final scenes of Titanic

Like the Titanic costumes above, a few of the costumes on exhibtion are replicas. These two had to be recreated because the original costumes were used for Jack’s death scene and so were severely water damaged.

Putting together the exhibiton has taken nearly six months, with researching fabrics for some costumes taking 6-8 weeks alone.

“Gertrude Lawrence’s outfit for Private Lives took a team of 15 people over 6 weeks to replicate!” said Carol.

 

With such a vast range of costumes, and some over 100 years old, it would be expected that maintaining the costumes may take a lot of time.

However, Carol explains that the opposite is actually true: “Once they’re on the mannequin and display they really do not need a lot of maintenance.”

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Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band costumes used at the London 2012 Olympics

As you walk through the exhibition you’ll notice that the lighting is kept dim, this is to reduce any damage that might be done to anyof the older fabrics.

While photographs are welcome, flash photography is not allowed to prevent damage to the costumes.

As Carol mentioned, some of the costumes at the exhibition have some really amazing backstories, and reading through the history of each one was really interesting.

One of the most interesting costumes was the dress worn by Dame Judi Dench when filming Shakespeare in Love.

The dress worn by Dame Judi Dench during Shakespear in Love

The dress worn by Dame Judi Dench during Shakespeare in Love

The dress itself weighs just over 15kg, and that’s without all the accessories that go with it!

Carol shared some of her favourite costumes in the exhibition with us: “I love the Red Shoes dress and all of the Shakespeare in Love costumes.”

We loved the huge variety in costumes at the exhibiton and moving from 1800s immigrant clothing all the way through to items worn by Paloma Faith and Kanye West was fascinating.

A replica of Elizabeth II's coronation dress

A replica of Elizabeth II’s coronation dress

Our favourite item at the exhibiton was definitely a replica of the Queen’s coronation dress. It features intricate embroidery of floral emblems of countries of the UK and some of the Commonwealth nations and the way it sparkled in the light was truly beautiful.

If you’re interested in visiting, visit the Dressed by Angels website. The exhibition is on until January 3 2016 and tickets are £16 for adults and £9 for children.