Fashion: Alien resurrection - the flares that never died

Oh my gawd - it's the Seventies. They've remembered the decade that fashion forgot, writes Tamsin Blanchard. Photographs by James Cant.

If, seen from here, the Seventies were your worst sartorial nightmare, then prepare to confront it all over again. This week, Boogie Nights, the epic movie about the porn industry of Seventies West Coast America, starring Mark Wahlberg as Dirk Diggler in brown Crimplene flares, opens at a cinema near you.

And that's not all. In early February, Sigourney Weaver takes to the big screen in The Ice Storm, a more cerebral story set on America's East Coast in the earlier half of the decade, 1973 to be precise. Before you know it, you'll be singing "Boogie Nights" and getting on down to your local Oxfam store in search of clothing horrors - halter necks, boob tubes and gold Lurex galore; or, even worse, you'll be dragging out those relics of your youth that you couldn't quite bare to part with. Horrors of the haunted wardrobe!

"They keep saying the Seventies are coming back," says Sigourney, whose movie clothes are more Abigail's Party than disco fever. "They are not coming back. They could not come back. They would not be allowed in." This a woman who knows the meaning of horror and fear. Clearly, Alien Resurrection was a picnic by comparison.

Sigourney may not be able to stomach men in big collars and hideously Seventies brown, rust, orange and gold. They don't do it for most people. But for those who didn't live through the decade that style forgot, the Seventies looks remarkably, well, stylish. Of course, many of the decade's fashions were downright ugly, but for young fashion folk, that is the attraction. Huge, rounded collars, wide, spoony-shaped shoes, chunky platforms, colossal flares, pearly green eyeshadow, and jarring colour clashes: just let us get at 'em!

Of course, films such as Boogie Nights are a godsend to shops specialising in retro clothing. The Pop Boutique has clothes from the Fifties to the Seventies; it is even doing good business in vintage tracksuit tops. A certain Fila tracksuit top like the one worn by Bjorn Borg sells for between pounds 70 and pounds 80, bobbles and all. Nylon shirts and polyester flares are also hot property, not to mention a tad moist and sweaty, too. Prices start at pounds 14.50 for super fly-collared shirts and pounds 16.50 for the sort of pants that some of us hoped might never see the light of day again. A lot of Pop Boutique's customers are after clothes for one-off Seventies nights. Others are committed to the decade full time.

London's clubland has also discovered that the Seventies are big business. The names of the "nights" say it all: Carwash, Voulez Vous, Starsky and Hutch, Groove Train and Good Times are just a few hot spots where a convincingly flyaway outfit is a free ticket to trip the light fantastic.

At the Electric Ballroom in London's Camden Town on Saturday nights, Saturday Night Fever offers free entry to anyone who makes an effort to dress up like John Travolta, or somebody from Abigail's Party. The Independent's stylist, Sophia Neophitou, took a suitcase of choice pieces from the decade to add a touch of fashion class to the retro clubbers. They all loved the dressing-up box, whose contents ranged from flared jeans to a silk, draped evening dress by Bill Gibb, a collector's item and a snip at pounds 175 from Steinberg and Tolkein on London's King's Road. Mark Steinberg has a keen interest in both film and fashion. Boogie Nights will undoubtedly increase demand for vintage Seventies clothing, although Steinberg attributes the revival to last year's movie, LA Confidential, the jewellery for which all came from the London shop.

"The Seventies has never really been out of fashion," he says. And judging by the designers - including John Galliano and New Yorker Anna Sui - who have been scouting around shops such as the Pop Boutique for inspiration, the look is here to stay.

Photographer's assistant: Philippa

Styling: Sophia Neophitou

Styling assistant: Warren Noronha

Shot on location at Saturday Night Fever, every Saturday at the Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High Street, London NW1, pounds 7, pounds 5 to members; free if you dress in Seventies outfits, 10.30pm-3am (0171-

485 9006)

Clockwise from main picture:

Laura wears Jacket and culottes suit, pounds 34, shiny polo-neck top, pounds 12, beige boots, pounds 39, all from Blackout II, 51 Endell Street, London WC2 (0171

240 5006)

Dawn wears zip-front dress, pounds 375, by Pucci, from Steinberg and Tolkien,193 King's Road, SW3 (0171-376 3660)

Asaki wears top, pounds 35, from Cenci, 31 Monmouth Street, London WC2 (0171- 836 1400); flared jeans, pounds 35, from Pop Boutique, 6 Monmouth Street, London WC2; Dr Martens shoes, model's own

Laura wears gold Spandex trousers, 20p, from The Cat Shelter open-day jumble sale, Sheffield; scarf top, pounds 220, by Pucci, from Steinberg and Tolkien, as before

Donna wears pink silk evening dress, pounds 175, by Bill Gibb, from Steinberg and Tolkien, as before; cream shoes, pounds 24, from Blackout II, as before

Donna wears pink sequin boob tube, pounds 10, pink sequin necklace, pounds 5, pink sequined bag, pounds 10, all from Cornucopia, 12 Upper Tachbrook Street, London SW1(0171-828 5752)