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Here's why the West End is London's greatest fashion show

There's plenty of stylish musicals in trend to see right now.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

Never mind the catwalks of Paris, New York and Milan – there’s nothing to rival the sheer splendour of London’s West End. Yes, that’s right: budding fashionistas should snap up a ticket for a musical if they’re looking for couture inspiration, whether it’s a costume fit for a queen, rock ‘n’ roll glamour, cabaret chic, or the perfect gown to make a memorable entrance at the ball.

Here’s our guide to the hottest looks in town, along with the visionary designers who dreamed them up and the fashion-forward shows that you can book tickets for now.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical - 750 - LT - 080322

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Where else could we begin but with this spectacular Parisian fantasy? Catherine Zuber rightly won both a Tony and an Olivier Award for her Moulin Rouge! The Musical costumes, which conjure up the naughty, decadent nightclub with its scantily clad, can-can-dancing showgirls, as well as the affluent aristocrats and colourful bohemians. That dangerous mixture of the three is what powers this musical’s romantic drama, as the club’s star Satine is torn between the man who can provide financial security and the man who offers love.

Book Moulin Rouge! The Musical tickets on London Theatre.

Cabaret - LT - 750 - 080422

Cabaret

The Moulin Rouge isn’t the only nightclub in the West End. Rebecca Frecknall’s multi-Olivier Award-winning revival of Kander and Ebb’s musical immerses the audience in Berlin's underworld as soon as they enter the theatre, and key to that is Tom Scutt’s incredible design – both of the pre-show delights and the production itself. The Kit Kat Club performers are deliberately seedy and stylised, brash and beautiful, mixing Pierrot costumes with fur coats and fiery wigs. The tragic end is underlined by that creativity being stifled by fascist conformity.

Book Cabaret tickets on London Theatre.

Pretty Woman - 750 - LT - 260522

Pretty Woman: The Musical

Another memorable transformation occurs in this iconic romcom, now a passionate stage musical. You’ll see plenty of your favourite looks from the Julia Roberts and Richard Gere-starring movie replicated in Gregg Barnes’s costumes, like Vivian’s famous cut-out minidress and thigh-high boots through to her gorgeous red gown for the opera. And, of course, Pretty Woman: The Musical even has a memorable scene all about how people evaluate us based on our clothes. Missing this 90s fashion parade would be a big mistake. Big. Huge!

Book Pretty Woman: The Musical tickets on London Theatre.

Six - 750 - LT - 200522

Six

Like everything else about this world-conquering show, Gabriella Slade’s period-meets-pop star costumes for the queens of Six hold legendary status. Each has her own style: Catherine of Aragon demonstrates power with gold, green-clad Anne Boleyn references “Greensleeves”, modest Jane Seymour’s wears a pure white corset, fiery Anne of Cleves is in red, the youthful, sexualised Katherine Howard wears pink and a translucent skirt, and the wise Catherine Parr is in royal blue. You can also spot the chokers for the beheaded wives and spikes for divorced.

Book Six tickets on London Theatre.

Tina The Musical - 750 - LT - 030322

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Mark Thompson created a whopping 430 costumes for this musical about the one and only Tina Turner. That takes Tina right from childhood through to her triumphant re-emergence as a rock ‘n’ roll solo artist, with plenty of iconic looks in between – including her slick black leather dress and denim jacket, sexy gold-fringed minidress, and the Swarovski crystal-studded dazzler for the climatic concert. It’s a vital part of bringing the real Tina to the stage and showing how she defined herself as a woman and as a record-breaking artist.

Book Tina: The Tina Turner Musical tickets on London Theatre.

Wicked - 750 - LT - 260522

Wicked

Welcome to the most swankified show in town! This beloved long-running musical is renowned for its quixotic looks, created by Susan Hilferty, particularly the high-fashion Emerald City. The central opposites-attract friendship is illustrated by costumes, too, as pink-clad Glinda tries to help the dour Elphaba. However, we learn not to judge on appearances. Glinda might charm in her sequinned bubble dress, but the green-skinned Elphaba, in black hat and broomstick, is so much more than that stereotypical vision of a wicked witch.

Book Wicked tickets on London Theatre.

Frozen - 750 - LT - 030322

Frozen

There’s more magical costuming in the stage musical version of Disney’s hit film Frozen. Christopher Oram brings the Nordic-inspired world of Arendelle to life with his majestic designs, which include all your favourite outfits from the movie, such as Anna’s silk taffeta coronation gown, Elsa’s elegant cloak and her unforgettable ice dress from “Let It Go.” But Oram also introduces new costumes specifically for the stage show, most notably Elsa breaking the Disney princess mould with her kickass trousers and boots in the Act II number “Monster.”

Book Frozen tickets on London Theatre.

& Juliet - 750 - LT - 070422

& Juliet

The audacious blend of Shakespeare and contemporary pop songs in this joyful show, plus its empowerment of women and queer characters, is reflected in the fabulous hybrid costumes conjured up by Paloma Young. Elizabethan ruffs, corsets and doublets meet tight jeans, cool trainers and leather jackets. It makes an age-old tale feel young, fresh, sexy and fun, and it welcomes the audience into its gender-bending, revolutionary party. This is the ultimate mash-up jukebox musical – and it’s got the fashion to match.

Book & Juliet tickets on London Theatre.

Anything Goes - 750 - LT - 220422

Anything Goes

Who can resist a tap-dancing sailor? Certainly not me, and there’s a whole troupe of them in this utterly charming Cole Porter musical. But that’s just the start of Jon Morrell’s glorious period costumes, which range from satin-swishing gowns for the debutantes and dashing tailcoats for the fellas to showgirls bristling with red-hot feathers. It’s escapism of the highest order, and that’s exactly what made it the perfect return to theatre post-pandemic. What a joy that its side-splitting hijinks, swooning romances and marvellous fashion are back this summer. It’s de-lovely!

Heathers - 750 - LT - 230522

Heathers

Break out those blazers, knee socks, plaid miniskirts and croquet bats if you want to join the coolest clique at Westerberg High. This black-comic musical enforces the social hierarchy through Amy Clark’s school uniform-riffing costumes, with the infamous Heathers in matching but individually colour-coded looks: red for queen bee Heather Chandler, yellow for her weaker acolyte Heather McNamara, green for jealous Heather Duke, and black and blue for the bruised Veronica. How very! In contrast, rebel outsider JD wears a dark, sinister trench coat.

Book Heathers tickets on London Theatre.

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