The Designer Behind The Beatles' Iconic Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Costumes

In 2003, Rolling Stone declared "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by the Beatles to be the greatest album of all time. The magazine stated that it "defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality, and electric guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had such an immediate, titanic impact." 

The Beatles released the album in June of 1967, cementing the rather experimental "alter ego" album as part of the so-called "Summer of Love" that occurred in the same year. It hit the top spot of the British album charts and stayed there for 27 weeks. It held its spot on the U.S. Top 200 albums for 15 weeks  (via The Beatles).

Rolling Stone updated the list in 2020 and placed the album at No. 24. However, No. 24 still isn't too shabby for an album that was first released over 50 years ago. Music aside, the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is iconic in itself. It looked vastly different from any previous Beatles album art.

Replicas of the costumes are at a museum in Liverpool

Behind the Beatles on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" are cut-outs of influential people such as Edgar Allan Poe and a former incarnation of the Beatles in their grey suits from earlier years in the band's history. According to Network North Norfolk, the cover's designers Peter Blake and Jann Haworth even won a Graphic Art Grammy for their work. While there is quite a bit to look at on the album cover, the Beatles themselves — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — appear in brightly colored suits with epaulets and buttons reminiscent of military apparel. The eye-catching outfit designs were from the mind of Noel Howard. 

A museum called The Beatles' Story in the band's hometown of Liverpool — a city that also boasts large statues of the band members — has the biggest permanent exhibition in the world dedicated to the Fab Four, according to the museum's website. Upon the addition of the Sgt. Pepper's room at the museum in 2000, Howard created replicas of the suits down to the exact measurements from 1967. The original suits remained with each band member after the band split. However, this was not the first time that Howard recreated the outfits.

The first replicas were commissioned by Yoko Ono

In 1999, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono reached out to Noel Howard to make replicas of the suits for a museum in Japan. He was able to look back at three of the originals in person before making the set for Ono (via Network Norfolk). The only replicas available for public viewing are the ones at The Beatles Story in Liverpool. The Sgt. Pepper's room at The Beatles Story also includes alternate photos from the album cover photo shoot. Only a few of these photos exist.

Noel Howard passed away in 2008 and was buried in his hometown, the village of Stody in England. Not much else seems to be known about him other than the fact that he worked for the costume company M. Berman Ltd., according to Julien's Auctions. The company was later known as Berman and Nathans, which is credited for making "Superman" costumes for Christopher Reeves in the 1970s and 1980s. As for Howard's legacy, sometimes all one needs to do to be remembered in history is to come up with the creative ideation for four iconic outfits for the band that recorded one of the greatest albums of all time. Simple enough.