Stepping inside London's most elusive costume shop, Prangsta Costumiers
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Prangsta Costumiers is no ordinary costume shop. Nestled in a busy South East London high street, semi-caged windows displaying lavish masks and ethereal accessories. One step through the door reveals a haven of extravagant costumes and one-of-a-kind headpieces. Manager Russell, 51, is on hand to fill me in. “We specialise in hiring out beautiful bespoke pieces covering all eras - except maybe the 1950s,” he laughs. “All of our costumes are extravagant and individual; we use beading, jewels… we don’t do the norm. We are niche- that’s what people come for! If we wanted to just make capes we would buy second-hand. Instead we are led by one person, one designer and one look.”
Established by designer and stylist Melanie Wilson (“a creative genius”) 18 years ago, Prangsta has always been exclusive to bustling New Cross - a lovably grungy corner of London that seems slightly at odds with Prangsta’s luxurious image.
Russell concedes, “We have all kinds of customers but we do have a lot of high-end clients, particularly from the Mayfair/Kensington areas… that we have them travel all the way to New Cross is testament to our stock.”
As Russell tells me, Prangsta is a rare success story in the industry: “It started totally on the grass-roots leve l- Melanie started it as a squat and built it up completely to what it is today.”
I can’t resist asking about celebrity clientele and am certainly not disappointed when Russell oh-so-casually tells me, “we have had Prince Harry in… Kate Moss has been photographed in some of our stuff… we recently worked with The Only Way Is Essex.”
I’m intrigued. Just how does one of the world’s leading supermodels come to be a clothes-horse for a small London costumiers? “Generally the stylist or photographer for the shoot will come in and select pieces.”
As for the name? “Like everything else in here, it comes directly from Melanie’s mind.”
Prangsta Costumiers can be found at 304 New Cross Rd, London or online at www.prangsta.co.uk .