Fancy Dress Galore

 Kensington Costume ShopThe first time I was invited to a fancy dress party on moving to London, I felt spoilt for choice. There would be no trawling through the address book to find one listing in my nearest town of a “party shop,” the diversity of which stretched as far as a Spiderman mask and some bunny ears. Now I could log onto the Internet, type ‘Hammersmith Fancy Dress’ and bring up a myriad of fancy dress outlets.

First on the list was ‘The Carnival Store’ on Hammersmith Road, opposite from Olympia Exhibition Centre, and one of the best fancy dress shops in London. The shop floor has a huge selection of accessories ranging from real hair moustaches to corn cob pipes. Downstairs, a cavern of costumes for hire or sale include special 18th century gowns and Star Trooper suits. There are outfits for different periods, for masquerades, for kids, for around-the-world themes and some, such as the giant hot-dog, which are almost ridiculously random. I even asked if they might have five chicken costumes, to which the reply was: “We do but I’m afraid they’ve all been hired out this weekend.”

Angels of Shaftesbury Avenue is another well-respected fancy dress shop. With hundreds of costumes bought from the world of film and theatre, it is able to brag of five floors with five miles of clothes to choose from. While having a good-range to choose from is inspiring, it can be a problem if you have not decided exactly the look you want. I went in there, accompanied by a friend, with the idea of a 19th century maiden in mind. Two rails and seven costume changes later, with the shop assistant helping me with the corset each time, I was still undecided with so much choice, and my friend was snoring on the floor. The Carnival Store is perfect; it has something for every theme without being overwhelming, a good website and catalogue to give you ideas, helpful advice and no need for appointments.

The last fancy dress I went to was an ‘Around-The-World-In-24 Hours’ theme. I got my costume from The Carnival Store, and I was the only Eskimo at the party!

— Emma McAlpine

The Carnival Store
95, Hammersmith Road
W14 London

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