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costume

Costume
2021 (designed)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The BBC TV drama Peaky Blinders (2013-2022) starred Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby, the leader of a Birmingham-based gang (based on a real-life gang of the same name) as they ascend the social and political ladder of early 20th century Britain. Filmed in a cinematically epic and stylistic way, and featuring music by Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and David Bowie, the show became a global phenomenon.

Aside from the programme’s cultural success and relevance, of significant importance were the show’s costumes (as well as the characters’ trademark haircuts), which were informed by historical research and sparked new fashion trends. Traversing the 1920s – 1930s, the tailored suits, hand-picked vintage items and character-driven detail transformed several characters into style icons. In particular, the success of the show has been credited with reviving the popularity of the 'news boy' or 'baker boy' flat cap, which in the early twentieth century was worn by both young aristocrats and working-class men. Featuring eight sections with a covered button in the centre, the cap was specified as being worn by the real life 'Peaky Blinders' gang members in the 20th century, who were known to hide a sharp piece of steel or metal inside the hat to be used as a weapon.

Leading costume designer Alison McCosh was crucial to the success of the programme, working collaboratively with the actors to create their looks. Helen McCrory (1968-2021) who portrayed ‘Aunt Polly’ worked with McCosh to create the bohemian, subtly glamorous style of the family matriarch, while Cillian Murphy devised with McCosh the textures of Thomas Shelby’s tailored suits, which shifted accordingly with each new time period.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 21 parts.

  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
  • Costume
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  • Costume
Titlecostume (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Brief description
Costume for Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders, designed by Alison McCosh
Physical description
Costume for Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders, designed by Alison McCosh. Three-piece navy herringbone wool suit, with a cashmere and astrakhan overcoat, two cotton shirts (one light blue and one cream), a wool baker boy-style hat, two ties (one red patterned and one blue patterned), patterned braces, and black leather lace-up boots. The costume also comes with accessories, including black silk leather gloves, two gold collar bars, a pair of gold cufflinks, a pair of chain-link sleeve garters, and a pocket handkerchief.
Credit line
Given by Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd
Object history
This suit was worn by Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby in episode 1 and episode 4 of series 6 of Peaky Blinders. In episode 1 ('Black Day'), he wore the suit in a scene set at a prison in Boston with the coat, hat, gloves, boots, cream shirt, maroon tie, braces, collar bar, chain, pocket watch, and cufflinks. In episode 4 ('Sapphire') he wore the suit in a scene set at his home Arrow House with the blue shirt, blue tie, boots, white pocket square, cufflinks, pocket watch and chain.
Summary
The BBC TV drama Peaky Blinders (2013-2022) starred Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby, the leader of a Birmingham-based gang (based on a real-life gang of the same name) as they ascend the social and political ladder of early 20th century Britain. Filmed in a cinematically epic and stylistic way, and featuring music by Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and David Bowie, the show became a global phenomenon.

Aside from the programme’s cultural success and relevance, of significant importance were the show’s costumes (as well as the characters’ trademark haircuts), which were informed by historical research and sparked new fashion trends. Traversing the 1920s – 1930s, the tailored suits, hand-picked vintage items and character-driven detail transformed several characters into style icons. In particular, the success of the show has been credited with reviving the popularity of the 'news boy' or 'baker boy' flat cap, which in the early twentieth century was worn by both young aristocrats and working-class men. Featuring eight sections with a covered button in the centre, the cap was specified as being worn by the real life 'Peaky Blinders' gang members in the 20th century, who were known to hide a sharp piece of steel or metal inside the hat to be used as a weapon.

Leading costume designer Alison McCosh was crucial to the success of the programme, working collaboratively with the actors to create their looks. Helen McCrory (1968-2021) who portrayed ‘Aunt Polly’ worked with McCosh to create the bohemian, subtly glamorous style of the family matriarch, while Cillian Murphy devised with McCosh the textures of Thomas Shelby’s tailored suits, which shifted accordingly with each new time period.
Associated object
Collection
Accession number
S.63:1 to 20-2022

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Record createdMay 12, 2022
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