150 PLUS / PAGE 127 / 1980 PARACHUTE

Parnass, once upon a time child star, and a recent architecture school grad, arrived in Montreal in the mid 1960’s. By the mid 70’s he was a professor and freelance design consultant. Pelly arrived from the UK as a fashion design grad in the early 70’s, and before long had moved up to having her name on the label at Montreal manufacturer Bagatelle. They met and meshed professionally and personally while both working for Le Chateau in the late 70’s, and shortly after created Parachute. By 1980 they had opened shop themselves in Montreal and Toronto and partnered in a mammoth 10,000 square foot store in New York’s Soho.

It was not long before the in-the-know found and fell in love with them. Their larger-than-life silhouette was perfect for the larger-than-life people who wore the clothes on and off the stage and screen.It was the 80’s and big was the buzzword. Parachute grew to twenty-four flagship stores in major U.S. cities and one in Tokyo and was available at the most prestigious and fashion-forward retailers in Australia, Great Britain, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, North Africa, Singapore, The Emirates, The Middle East, and The U.S.A.

I can’t think of any other Canadian designers or manufacturers who, while remaining in Canada, have sent their clothes beyond our borders and achieved such incredible global recognition. I remember vividly the days I spent working “in retail” in the Toronto store. It was one of the hang outs for the young and the restless of the Toronto art/music/fashion scene. Amazing people, many of whom went on to international fashion fame themselves, were regulars, some as customers, some as fellow salespeople and some who just liked to drop in and see what was up! See THEN: 1979 TORONTO PUNK ]and CANADIAN DESIGNERS: PARACHUTE  for some further 80’s reminiscence!

By the 1990’s the massive level they achieved meant that Parnass and Pelly were spending more time organizing and running the company than designing, which was not what they wanted to be doing, and as a second child was on the way, they decided, that, as the leases came due, they would let the company fold. In just over a decade, Parachute had been carefully built and dismantled.

 

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