Fashion: Sartorial stars

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The Independent Culture
A SILVER holographic jumpsuit with matching platforms; a gold lame jacket with lace-up flares and snakeskin platforms; a slinky black frock-coat with 2-ft-long ostrich feathers sprouting from the shoulders. No, it's not an impressionable St Martin's student's first show; these are just some of the outfits that the Oscar-nominated costume designer Sandy Powell created for the glam-fest film Velvet Goldmine, which are currently on display at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, south London.

Powell's impressive CV includes Orlando, The Butcher Boy and Interview with a Vampire. But in Velvet Goldmine, it is her clothes that are the stars.

The film centres on Brian Slade (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who starts out singing acoustic folk songs, dressed in floor-length Afghan coats, then reinvents himself, Bowie-style, into the Glitter King.

Ewan McGregor plays Curt Wild, and his outfits wouldn't have posed too many problems for Powell: he appears butt-naked in one scene, with only a sprinkling of gold glitter on his chest and his leather flares down around his ankles. The film gave Powell the chance to indulge herself in the outfits that made Seventies glam what it was - a bit of a nonsense.

Nice work if you can get it - so how did Powell get it? After graduation from Central St Martin's, she became involved in fringe theatre, dance and pop promos before moving into feature films. Her film work has resulted in Bafta nominations and Academy Awards for her designs for Orlando and The Wings of the Dove.

The frippery and fantasy of Seventies clothes is fun to look at, for a while, but it soon gives you a toothache and has you reaching for the make-up remover.

My favourite outfit was the long, misty blue velvet dress Slade wears on stage before his move to glam alley - more Fleetwood Mac than velvet tack.

Sarah Callard