for family firms and the start of family break-up — Jacob and Esau were third generation. Today, Tim and his two sons Daniel and Jeremy are to be found at their vast, modern headquarters in Hendon; his daughter Emma runs the fancy-dress business in the West End (fancy dress is 30 per cent of the business). In recent decades, the company has hoovered up many former competitors. You may remember Bermans and Nathans — long gone to the Angels. Their power in the market prompted an Office of Fair Trading inquiry. Tim brought in his wife Eleanor to deal with it 25 years ago and she is still involved with the business today.
In the foyer of the headquarters, high, airy and light, young costumedesigner types in jeans and boots wait in comfortable armchairs for their appointments. Who knows what they’re looking for? The whole of human and extra-terrestrial life can be costumed in this building.
Jeremy Angel, a hotshot at online (now of course a major part of the business), takes me on a tour of the workrooms where skilled cutters, seamstresses and seamsters (yes, there is, or was, such a word) are making costumes for a new Broadway production of Fiddler On The Roof Dressed for success: Tim Angel has helped to ensure that Angel’s has remained the country’s premier costumier not just for films and TV but also fancy dress opening next month. Later, he ushers me round acres of warehouse containing every dress, cloak, uniform, livery, crown, accessory and epaulette you’ve ever seen and many you haven’t. In this drawer is the stuff stitched on to the original Dad’s Army uniforms and here’s the stuff they’re using in the forthcoming Dad’s Army film. Everything ever put on screen attracts anoraks who know every nicety and would be appalled by imprecision but I can tell you that when military uniforms don’t call for a particular brass button they get the brass buttons of the Egyptian navy which happen to be wonderfully generic.
To enter chairman Tim’s office, one has to negotiate special security, a child security gate that keeps his two black spaniels from roaming round the building. They come to work with him every day. “Having your dogs at work is very relaxing,” he says. He came into the business in 1967 and has transformed it. “Colour television was just coming in. It was a fabulous, unrepeatable time. There were lots of costume dramas and a new generation of costume designers who were very creative. They hired in all their period costumes. There was a BBC costume department that had