It is a vast place so as you can imagine I only saw a tiny snap shot of what they have in the two hours I was there. I mainly used the trip (with my university course) as a chance to research costumes that related to my latest project, a 1980’s outfit with an 18th century twist, in the jacket style . Therefore I firstly looked for 1980’s suit jackets and late 18th century caraco bodices. I was able to find several jackets and three bodices.
Starting with the 18th century bodices I examined the practical features of the garments, to gain a better understanding of the standard of production used in theatre costume making. The combinations of fastenings used in the three different examples of bodice were really insightful: one bodice was fastened with giant poppers as well as hook and bar tape for extra security. Another had hook and bars sewn on individual but alternated the sides the components were sewn on to. One wasn’t lined, perhaps to make the costumes more washable. However one was lined and sweat patches were sewn under the armholes to protect the silk fabric lining. The third one was only half lined on the tail coat style draped panel. This was probably because it was very full and long and may have shown on the underside.
|Hooks and Bars and Poppers|
|Hooks and pars are sewn on alternative sides each pair for a more secure fasten.|
|Sweat patches preserve the fine silk lining|
From a design perspective they were also inspirational. My design incorporates a peplum that forms into two points. Each of the three bodices had interesting examples of similar effects. One created a sharp point at the centre back by adding an extra pointed panel; this folds in when lying straight, by I reckon would splay out over a bum roll/full skirt. The second created a short flared peplum using box pleats; this doesn’t create any sort of point but would create a nice fit and flare line.The third bodice was fitted with a stomacher front panel which then flares out into a full almost tailcoat style shape at the back. This is cut in panels to create the very full shape. It was a very heavy garment because there was so much fabric in the back panel. The exaggerated, oversized collar and panelling suggested to me it had been a comical costume, also reflected in the fabric, and binding. The strong royal blue buttons and binding infer it was for a confidant character, the colour combination’s producing a bold striking design. I was also interested in the placement of the stripe pattern: the front and back panels in particular I felt was cut in an attractive way. However they didn’t match the stipes on the bodice/peplum waist seam, which would have improved the costume.
I also needed to research 1980’s suit jackets so also went up to the 2nd floor to look at their 80’s stock. The 2nd floor I wouldn’t say is as ordered as the 1st. there is no lighting, and it is difficult to see the costumes if you are in the centre of the room so have to take everything over to the windows to see it properly. I mainly wanted to look at 1980’s jackets to examine their construction, Such as the size of shoulder pads and lining construction.
Whereas all the period stuff has clearly been made, their 20th century stock is mostly vintage clothing from the various periods. The jackets I looked at were vintage pieces from Jigsaw, Hobbs, Jacques Vert to name a few. From examining several pieces I was able to identify some key construction features: all have a 2 inch pleat in the centre back of the lining for ease, and the thickness of shoulder pads vary from approximately 6cm – 3cm. I also found a really nice pencil skirt, part of a two piece suit; it had a flattering waistband shape and placement of darts on the skirt back.As well as finding costumes to inform my research I also just looked around generally at the different stock. They have a vast selection of unusual pieces. From exquisite examples of fabric manipulation as seen on 18th century bodices and beautiful scalloped edged flouncy sleeves. To illustrious ethnic and embroidered fabrics used in Tudor dresses, capes and other exotic garments. I also came a across a rather unusual set of headdresses including a massive fairy-tale castle, the Titanic and landmarks of Europe they were very wacky and eclectic indeed.
Some other highlights included the breaking down section which apparently includes some of the costumes used on the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film and had a selection of mainly period costumes, that had been in some cases near destroyed; such as the bodice below which had been shredded and ripped within an inch of its life.
It would have been interesting to know if these pieces were once newly made costumes that had just become worn/damaged overtime so were chosen to be broken down or were made to be used as broken down costumes. The last highlight was a rather unusual medieval cape, which appeared to have been made of incredibly thick and weighty canvas and then painted with a design. If this could be done with slightly less heavy fabric, I feel it could be a really unusual way of creating medieval costumes where fabrics are difficult to source if you have a very specific motif that needed to be created.
BCS charge £45 per week for a full costume (BCS define a full costume as a dress, petticoat, cape, hat, shoes. However they did say a dress and petticoat may also be considered a full costume in some circumstances)
Consecutive weeks would be charged at £22 pounds.
They don’t charge per item but as a complete outfit
They bought up Bristol Old Vic’s store and BBC Wales store when they sold their stock.
Sometimes they will offer to produce costumes but on condition that BCS keep the costumes for their stock.
I hope this gives you some idea of the wide ranging selection in style Bristol Costume Services has to offer. If you are looking to hire for a show I am sure you will find something to suit your needs, there is a great selection and it is well made especially as much of their stock has come from other wardrobe departments.