Hollywood costume supplier Angels ‘priced out’ of West End after 180 years

By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

A 180-year-old West End costume supplier is leaving the historic theatre district after being “priced out” by rising rent and rates.

Angels Fancy Dress on Shaftesbury Avenue opened in 1840 and has supplied some 40 Oscar-winning films including Dr Zhivago, Star Wars and Little Women this year.

The seventh-generation business is not closing and will be run out of its Hendon warehouse in north London from Friday, after its West End lease expired and the family failed to find another location.

Company director Emma Angel (Angel Fancy Dress/PA)

Angels, which was awarded a Bafta for outstanding British contribution to cinema in 2016, is currently run by Tim Angel and his children Emma, Daniel and Jeremy.

Company director Emma said the Shaftesbury Avenue store’s closing marked the end of a “West End landmark”.

She said: “We are being priced out of London because of high rents and rates.

“People talk about the death of the high street, but whilst big stores are dying because of online retail, the rates and rents in London are still extremely expensive.

“At present, an independent store owner can be paying well over half-a-million pounds per year in rates and rents to take over an empty unit without stairs or fitted toilets. That’s before you’ve done the flooring, fitted it out, hired staff and taken a single sale.

The wig wall in the Shaftesbury Avenue store (Angels Fancy Dress/PA)

“While our business can continue online and physically from our Hendon warehouse, operating alongside the movie industry side of the company, as of now, the curtain comes down on Angels’ presence as a West End landmark and a rite of passage for party-going Londoners.”

She added that antisocial behaviour in the West End had also contributed to the decision to vacate the premises.

Emma said that in the past three years the shop’s windows had been broken 11 times, forcing them to hire security.

She said: “We have had the windows broken 11 times in the past three years – at a cost of almost £14,000 – and we now pay a security guard to keep the store safe in the evening.

The Shaftesbury Avenue shop will close on Friday (Angels Fancy Dress/PA)

“Organised drug dealing blights this area and with it comes a lot of bad behaviour.”

Angels opened as a second-hand clothing shop in 1840 when Morris Angel and then his son Daniel began hiring out costumes to actors looking for work in the West End.

With the advent of film, Angels diversified into supplying the UK and Hollywood industries.

The business supplied its first Oscar-winning costumes to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet in 1948.

Angels also counts Star Wars, Titanic, Lawrence Of Arabia, The Great Gatsby, Doctor Who and Shakespeare In Love among the films it has provided outfits for.

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen worked at Angels as a costumier in the late ’80s, while fellow designer Daniella Helayel uses its costumes for inspiration.