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Parachute: a retrospective on the fashion brand that challenged the status quo




From the late ’70s to the early’ 90s, a Montreal-based fashion duo upended the status quo. Nicola Pelly and Harry Parnass, respectively designer and architect, created Parachute, one of the most avant-garde brands of its time. Inspired by the grunge-chic and minimalist aesthetic adopted by the subcultures of the time, they pioneered a timeless, androgynous and avant-garde style. After a meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the design world, Parachute had personalities like Madonna, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Cher and Peter Gabriel, and it was present in over 400 stores in 15 countries around the world. Now, in a must-see exhibition that runs from November 19 to April 24 at the McCord Museum in Montreal, Parachutes is crafting extraordinary designs, international hits and fashion contributions.

The end of the 1970s in Montreal was synonymous with recession and urban decline. People were unemployed, rent was cheap, and pockets of artistic expression emerged. “Creativity is born out of economic poverty,” says Alexis Walker, associate curator of the Dress, Fashion and Textiles collection at the McCord Museum. The era of the new wave that hit Montreal and beyond was like a launching pad that allowed artists like Pelly and Parnass to dedicate themselves to their dreams in a vibrant scene of discovery and creative self-expression. . The anti-compliance ethics and rebellious young energy of this subculture have made it commercially viable. “What started as an underground scene here [in Montreal] transformed into something international and sophisticated while keeping an underground feel thanks to the type of photography [Parachute] used, the clothes she created and the people who worked for the company, ”says Walker.




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