The costume journey
Our costumes endure a rigorous time during the run of a production.
At the end of every performance, once the actors have removed their costumes, the running wardrobe team have to wash and iron all items that can be laundered.
Everything else may be dry cleaned, most will need some form of repair, and then everything is steamed and pressed and returned to the dressing rooms ready for the next show.
Moving to a new home
When a production ends its run, the costumes' life continues. Everything is washed and cleaned as before but this time the costumes are then transported to our Costume Store. There the team unpack, catalogue and prepare the costumes for re-use and hiring.
Costumes from the same production may not always be kept together. Skirts, bodices etc. are all stored according to period, type and class.
Some costumes may be deemed culturally important and make their way to the RSC Archive collection rather than the Store. Our Costume Production Workshops often reuse costumes in new productions; they may be altered and/or dyed beyond recognition or go onstage looking exactly the same.
The RSC Costume Store is not just a graveyard for past productions. It has an important part to play for future productions and all costumes are available to hire.
Costume supervisors and designers contact us outlining their design brief and describe the items they are looking for. Ideally they visit us to make their selections but if that isn't possible we can sometimes come up with suggestions for them.
Although our regular customers are UK based we also hire costumes all over the world and have supplied to customers as far afield as Germany, Japan and the US.