Going out in style: Cotswold Costumes turns 40

Cotswold Costumes was opened in 1982 by Maud Franklin and her friend Astrid at Days Mill in Nailsworth – although Astrid’s surname seems to have been lost in the mists of time.

“Astrid left Nailsworth a long time ago and nobody seems to remember her last name,” said Ruth Druziakin, the current owner of the business, who took over in 2017.

“In the late ’60s, Maud joined the Nailsworth Dramatic Society as a wardrobe and costume designer, along with Astrid, and they made loads of costumes and people were hiring them,” Ruth explained.

Over 7,000 items are available for rental. Photo: Matt Bigwood.

“In the early 1980s she was made redundant and decided to start Cotswold Costumes, so they spent a whole year sewing, and there are books for each year describing what she did.”

The founders ran the business until 2005 when it was taken over by Jim and Glynnis Robinson. When they retired in 2017, Ruth stepped in.

“I studied costume and worked in theater costume, so it’s something I love. Working in costume in the theater you do the same thing every day, whereas here every day is different,” Ruth explained.

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Clients range from schools, theater groups, individuals to film and television rentals. There have been some unusual requests: “Yesterday I dressed someone up as a character from My Little Pony for a ‘weird and wonderful party’, and later a school came to pick up costumes for their production of La Belle and the Beast, so two complete requests!”

Costume hire businesses have suffered over the past two years and many have gone bankrupt: “I know of 50 businesses across the UK that have closed. The pandemic hasn’t been good for us – the theater shows have been slow to return, there has been no party either.

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Owner Ruth Druziakin takes pride in knowing where everything is in the Nailsworth business. Photo: Matt Bigwood.

Cotswold Costumes are based in the Tradeplas Building on the A46 near Nailsworth and pride themselves on being slightly different to other costume hire businesses as individuals can call and browse without an appointment, although appointments can be reserved if necessary.

“Not everyone knows what they are looking for, and I know the stock – 7,000 items – a customer could spend hours looking for something, but I would know where it is and what is right for you,” said Ruth.

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Nailsworth School Party. Victorian Dress Up Day, 1992.

November is Ruth’s busiest time of year when people start thinking about their Christmas parties, and another busy week is always between Christmas and New Years when people are looking for holiday costumes. of New Year.

“I try to encourage people to book in advance but no one ever does – I know at least 50 families who will be coming this week as it’s a Christmas tradition.”

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1985 Nailsworth Dramatic Society show, ‘Not Bloody Likely’

The firm has even had royal clients, including a notorious incident when Prince Harry was photographed in the tabloid press wearing a Nazi uniform rented from Cotswold Costumes in 2005: “It caused great controversy and there were paparazzi outside the store for weeks, I think,” Ruth said.

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Costume day at Jane Austen’s house in 2021.

To celebrate the 40and anniversary, there will be an exhibition of photographs and costumes in the Mortimer Rooms of the Nailsworth Library on Saturday 21 Mayst, as part of the Nailsworth Festival. Visitors can even dress up and have their photos taken in costume.

For more information visit: www.cotswoldcostumes.com