Angels fancy dress shop: Curtain falls on West End institution after 180 years

Magda Ibrahim
·2-min read
Nigel Howard
Nigel Howard

A theatreland institution which has supplied costumes for shows, Hollywood blockbusters and partygoers since 1840 faces the final curtain as a West End landmark today.

Over the decades Angels fancy dress shop, in Shaftesbury Avenue, has dressed Christopher Lee, the Beckhams, Nicole Scherzinger and even Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Army.

Costumes from the family-owned store have included Sir Alec Guinness’s Star Wars robe, Kit Harington’s Game Of Thrones outfit and Claire Foy’s dress for the Queen’s coronation scene in The Crown. But today the firm, as a secondhand clothes business supplying West End actors, moves out of its historic five-storey home to the company’s warehouse in Hendon, blaming rising West End rents.

Its director, Emma Angel, said: “I grew up with this building and it is such a quirky space with such heart and soul. It is really upsetting because we have been here for so long. I have so many memories here, like the time I was about eight and my dad asked me if I wanted to meet Dracula. I came out and there was Christopher Lee, and all I could do was gawp at him because he was so tall.”

The business was founded in 1840 by Ms Angel’s great-great-great-great grandfather Daniel Angel, who arrived in London from Frankfurt as a penniless tailor in 1813. It has passed through seven generations of the Angel family. Current chairman Tim, 70, was last year awarded a CBE for services to theatre, film, television and the arts. Ms Angel works alongside her brothers Daniel, 42, and Jeremy, 38.

Ms Angel said: “We’ve had all sorts of people walk through the doors over the years, and Halloween is always a great draw. Victoria Beckham and all the kids came in a couple of years ago to get all their bits and pieces for trick or treating, and Victoria and David had some items made when they got married.”

She said she still “hadn’t given up” on finding a new home in the West End, adding: “While our business can continue online and physically from our Hendon warehouse, as of now the curtain comes down on Angels’ presence as a West End landmark and a rite of passage for party-going Londoners.”