By Elizabeth Greatrex
Halloween is just around the corner and sorry to break it to you, but your trusty cat ears on a headband and painted on whiskers just aren’t going to cut it for the fifth year in a row, (that’s right, we remembered). Some of us like to make more of an effort than others, but this year, we’ve rounded up some of London’s top-notch costumiers and make-up shops so you can find some spooky yet sophisticated outfits and make-up. Whether you’re planning on venturing out for some socially distanced trick or treating or decorating your garden with beautifully-lit pumpkins for a little soiree of six, let’s remind ourselves why fancy dress is always a good idea this time of year.
Angels Fancy Dress
Established in 1840, Angels is a family business that has been dressing up Londoners for 170 years. Having welcomed the likes of Charles Dickens and Elton John to Victoria Beckham and Joan Collins into personalised fittings, this establishment is the godfather of London’s fancy dress scene. Covering every theme, look and time period you could possibly imagine, Angels are also known for providing hire costumes for TV, theatre and film productions, and pride themselves on delivering both drama and authenticity. After a session with Angels costumiers tailoring an incredible bespoke outfit to you and your figure, style and event, you’ll be completely transformed into the character of your choice. As your very own mythical creature, grim reaper, dead bride, or even Cruella Deville, Angels costumiers will ensure you walk into Halloween ready for your close up.
Nestled in the South East of London, if you’re on the lookout for a rather extravagant look, Prangsta is most certainly worth the journey across town. This luxurious shop is full to the brim with a magnificently varied collection of handmade costumes that have been selected for a huge range of events and occasions and worn by party goers and performance artists galore. You’ll be glad to know that Prangsta incorporates sustainability into the creation of all of their pieces, as their process involves rehoming discarded items and turning them into completely original costumes. So whether you’re hoping to reinvent yourself as a whacky character from Alice and Wonderland, a beautiful Daisy Buchanan, an outlandish circus performer, or a frightening White Witch of Narnia, these stylists are passionate about embellishing whatever mad fantasy that you have always dreamt of living at Halloween, while creating a completely personalised look for you. If anyone can pull off the imaginary, it’s Prangsta.
Costume Boutique in West London is like Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders for costumes. With an immense collection of quality costumes and accessories to hire for parties, stylists, photographers, PR and event agencies, and production companies for TV, theatre and commercials, there is no shortage of choice at this shop. If you’re a little short on inspiration this year, Costume Boutique’s bespoke costume making service will help you out by providing design ideas and inspirations through mood boards, sketches, fabric sampling, pattern cuttings and fittings. If you’re a little shorter on time, their bespoke costume styling service is a quicker solution in which the stylists create unique outfits by adapting their existing costumes. Perhaps you’d like to do your own take on a vampire princess, a magician wizard, The Phantom of the Opera, or even Princess Leia. Whatever the idea or request, Costume Boutique will ensure that you walk away with the costume of your dreams (or nightmares).
Annie’s Vintage Costumes and Textiles
A well-loved favourite of fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen and Donna Karan, Annie’s Vintage Costumes and Textiles has been referred to the ‘Grande dame’ of vintage and antique clothing stores. This adorable little shop can be found in Islington’s Camden Passage. Stepping into Annie’s and escaping to a wonderland of exquisite pieces from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, for a while, you’ll happily forget the outside world exists. Wading your way through the sequined art deco jackets and fur capes from the roaring ’20s, to the elegant, yet quirky silk couture dresses from the 1950s, you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice. This Halloween, Annie’s will transport you back to a simpler, more romantic time period, and help you recreate the magical, theatrical atmosphere of dressing up that too many of us forget in our adulthood.
Dressing up for Halloween just wouldn’t have the same effect without the finishing touch of professional make-up. Kryolan has been the film and theatre industries go-to for make-up, wigs and lashes for over 70 years; so if you feel there’s a little magic missing from your Halloween look, Kryolan is the place to go to embellish your costume this spooky season. This shop makes it ridiculously easy to develop your own unique make-up look for Halloween, with tutorials, specialised make-up kits, and every special effect item you could imagine. (Think synthetic pus effect, nose putty and next level fake blood).