In their leopard print, lipstick and angora scarves, some Angel's shoppers had started queuing at midnight. The line stretched along the side of the warehouse, through the early morning carpark and then around, along the road towards the tube station, where each train spat out another glamorous and giggling crowd. Inside, minutes before the doors opened at 8.30, boxes of coats, hats and dresses waited, crumpled but fabulous.
By nine, the damp warehouse was bustling and loud – purple frock coats were being flung over aisles of cardboard, Katia from Celebrity Big Brother was moodily fingering hats. It was exciting, and it smelled of mothballs. Around 9.30, a bloodcurdling yell alerted shoppers to a catfight over 1950s dresses. Everybody cheered. There were tears. Tim Angel, chairman of Angels, was flitting through the crowd, delighted. “The event truly was a great success on all fronts: the weather was on our side, and the first people started queuing from midnight,” he says. “By the time the doors opened at 8.30am there was an almost party-like atmosphere amongst the shoppers, which continued once everyone was inside.
By early afternoon over 3,000 fashion lovers had passed through the doors, along with fancy dress fanatics and military uniform enthusiasts from across the UK." At home I emptied my plastic bags and assessed the haul – five 1940s and 50s dresses, three handbags, a grey Dior New Look-look coat, and another woollen coat in bright green with a full fur hood. A week of hand washing and trips to the dry cleaners lies ahead, but then, I predict, months and months of compliments.
- Eva Wiseman