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Paris costume warehouse plays key role in world’s biggest movies

We visit France’s largest costume rental service

EuroCostumes director Pascale Bourtequoi sorts garments for hire at the warehouse Pic: Théophile Larcher

For film buffs, there can be few greater treats than browsing famous costumes from cinema history. 

One of the biggest repositories is based in Pantin, in the north-eastern suburbs of Paris, where everyone from Steve McQueen to Vincent Cassel has been suited and booted for the silver screen. 

The costume worn by Vincent Cassel in Beauty and the Beast (2014), hanging in its warehouse Pic: Théophile Larcher

The costume worn by Vincent Cassel in Beauty and the Beast (2014), hanging in its warehouse Pic: Théophile Larcher

EuroCostumes is France’s largest costume rental service. 

It was re-branded in 1998 by Pascale Bourtequoi, 62, whose family has been working in costumes for three generations. 

She has several warehouses around the city, but no precise idea of how many garments currently hang on the labyrinth of rails inside them. 

Herculean stocktake

A recent email from a client offering even more clothes gives some idea of the Herculean labour a stocktake might be. “So, 400 tops, 200 skirts, 100 jackets, 55 raincoats, 3,000 ties...,” she reads, a wry smile on her face. 

The Connexion met her at the 4,000m² warehouse where most costumes are stocked and rented – mainly for cinema and theatre productions. 

In recent years, EuroCostumes has dressed cast members from TV’s Peaky Blinders, The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, Black Butterflies, and Transatlantic, as well as from blockbuster movies including Dunkirk (2017) and the The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan, currently in cinemas. 

Outfits from EuroCostumes were used in the hit series Peaky Blinders Pic: : PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Outfits from EuroCostumes were used in the hit series Peaky Blinders Pic: : PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Ms Bourtequoi also points out costumes recently borrowed for the Karl Lagerfeld mini-series Kaiser Karl and for a biopic of French singer Charles Aznavour, called Monsieur Aznavour. 

Throughout the warehouse tour, Ms Bourtequoi’s commentary is frequently paused to reorganise racks or exclaim over missing items. 

“Staff hate it when I give these tours because they know I will spot every detail,” she says, amused. 

Every inch of space is used 

The company has a large selection of period costumes Pic: Théophile Larcher

Hats are stored in boxes or hung off rails. 

Elsewhere are containers labelled ‘Shoes 1930’ or ‘Blue belts’. 

Whole rails are dedicated to ‘Skirts 1980’ or ‘Waistcoats 1970’. 

Women’s clothing takes over the entire ground floor, while men’s costumes are stored in the basement. 

The oldest garment dates back to the 17th century, with the most fragile items stored in what is nicknamed ‘The Box Gallery’. 

Here you will find the original costume worn by French star Jean-Paul Belmondo in Borsalino (1970), among other treasures. 

Despite her huge existing stock, Ms Bourtequoi never throws anything out and is always on the lookout for more interesting items. 

“You never know what the next client will have to offer,” she says, citing the example of a store closure in 2000, where she picked up 40 years of unsold clothes in pristine condition. 

“Some were Lacoste clothes dating from before the crocodile logo,” she says. 

More recently, EuroCostumes went to a farm in Tulle (Corrèze) where the owner had 2,000 pairs of shoes from the 1930s to 1980s nestled in the hay. 

Costumes in the blood

Ms Bourtequoi has costumes in her blood. 

Her grandfather, Marcel Traonouez, was a costume designer and his portrait still hangs over the staircase at the warehouse. 

Her father followed him into the business and her son, Alexandre Metier, is now in charge of the company. 

Ms Bourtequoi grew up running around the racks. 

She saw Steve McQueen trying on a costume for Papillon (1973) and French actors Louis de Funès, Jean Gabin and Alain Delon also paid visits. 

Recently, Clive Owen came over from London to be fitted for the TV drama Monsieur Spade. 


However, her early costume career almost ended in disaster when her grandfather’s premises burnt to the ground in February 1982. 

Aged just 21 at the time, she thought she had wiped out her family’s professional heritage. 

Ms Bourtequoi rebuilt the company from the ashes and re-branded as EuroCostumes in an effort to attract international clients. 

“More and more American and British creators are collaborating with us, looking for authenticity,” she says. 

EuroCostumes also runs a repair service on the first floor, where seamstresses patch up garments that still have potential. 

“I call it suturing,” says Isabelle Calzada, 60, who joined the firm last January. 

She has been working on a 17th century ballgown for over a week and dreams of seeing it in a movie one day. 

Ms Calzada started sewing as a young girl, initially designing skirts for her Barbie dolls from fabric offcuts given to her by her mother. 

Her colleague, 19-year-old Axelle Duquesne, also started out on toys before enrolling as a NVQ student at a school in Paris with a five-week internship at EuroCostumes. 

On the day of our visit, her job was to change the lining on a blue coat. 

Their work will ultimately return to the rails behind them and be wheeled off to join the thousands of other garments in the warehouse. 

Once, during a tax audit 15 years ago, Ms Bourtequoi was politely asked how many clothes the company had. 

Her response was simply to open the door to the warehouse. “All good,” the auditor hurriedly muttered. 

“Forget what I just asked.”

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