Alexander Fury’s ‘80s Edit

The 1980s saw a cultural shift to sharp, dark and edgy characterized by post-punk and Basquiat, all chronicled by MTV’s blockbuster music videos - the Instagram of their day. Discover this turbulent decade of fashion through the eyes of fashion editor and collector Alexander Fury, and our community member, '80s specialist Isabelle; founder of Les Merveilles de Babellou.


Meet Alexander Fury

What do you love about vintage from the 1980s?

The 1980s was a fascinating cultural period when fashion began to fragment; suddenly, there was not only the haute couture establishment, but also dynamic Italian and New York ready-to-wear labels, as well as the young upstarts of London and Paris. High fashion, street fashion, anti-fashion, all are suddenly vibrantly evident. The 1980s was a strong decade, one of extremes: shoulders were wide, skirts were short, heels were high. Personally, I react to 1980s fashion that is similarly high-octane and hardcore. Oddly, it’s the most 1980s of looks that still have an impact today. They’re about strength, power, and standing out. Those are timeless qualities.

Which designer is the most emblematic of the era for you?

Because of the diversity of talent across the 1980s, it’s tricky to mark out just one figure. However I think the ultimate designer to emerge in the '80s for me was Azzedine Alaïa: he managed to be couture but also cult. 


Which vintage pieces are worth investing in today? 


The 1980s are characterised by sharp tailoring with the decade’s signature wide shoulders, intricate leather - which suddenly became a fashion fabric - high-octane evening wear and brightly-coloured jewellery and accessories. They all still have a relevance today.


Which pieces sum up the 1980s for you and why?


This lightweight aluminum chain-mail was originally used in aeronautical engineering - Gianni Versace discovered it, called it Oroton, and used it to create sensuous evening dresses. This dress is very right for now - chain-mail is still a modern way of wearing glitter at night, and it cropped up all over the Spring 2020 collections.


Claude Montana was the ultimate 1980s designer: this piece is quintessential Montana, with cowboy-boot detailing quilted into the shoulders, emphasizing the top-heavy silhouette.


Azzedine Alaïa’s career was made, in part, by these studded gauntlets that became a fashion fetish item in the early 1980s and demonstrated his unique use of leather alongside functional details as decoration. They were worn by Catherine Deneuve in the movie The Hunger.


Christian Lacroix defined an entirely different side of the 1980s: playful, colorful, sexy and frivolous. This handbag is a perfect example of his style - and I love that super 1980s thing of a woman dressed in black with brightly-colored accessories.


Pieces by Jean Paul Gaultier will become vintage gold dust following his retirement in January: this is a key piece from his winter 1987 collection that still feels fresh and singular.

Meet Isabelle, founder of Merveilles de Babellou

The inimitable 1980s blend of primary colors with plenty of black and gold provides a vast seam of inspiration for vintage specialist Isabelle, founder of Les Merveilles de Babellou. Named after the owner’s daughter, the boutique is frequented by many stylists and editors seeking something truly unique, and while it stocks items from across the decades, bold, powerful and colorful jewelry from the '80s, as well as iconic handbags from the era, are something of a specialty.

What do you love about selling on Vestiaire Collective?

It’s the only site that mixes newer pieces with vintage, and the entire spirit of the community is about listening to sellers, valuing the work we do in sourcing these pieces, and passing on our love and passion for fashion and its rich cultural history.


Which designers represent their era best for you?

Paco Rabanne. He revolutionized fashion by mixing materials into new and previously unexplored forms. His creations are more like sculptures or pieces of art than simply fashion. I also love John Galliano’s Dior; he designed living paintings with his clothes, and his creative approach is both enormously rich and completely unique. For me, these two designers are nothing short of artists.


Which vintage pieces are worth investing in today?

For me, it’s anything Haute Couture, particularly handmade pieces that took an enormous amount of craftsmanship and time to construct. They contain not only hours of loving work, but also the knowledge and richness of French heritage that simply cannot be found anywhere else.

We Want Your Items!

From August 26th to September 6th, we’re running a competition and rewarding members who list more than 3 pieces. So whether there’s a handbag that hasn’t been getting some love amidst WFH or you’ve decided it’s time for a major clearout, now’s your time to shine. Simply list:


  • 3 or more items to win $23 
  • 5 or more items to win $47

10 or more items to win $82


Read T&Cs