CANADIAN FASHION: LE CHATEAU

LONG BEFORE THE TERM “FAST FASHION” EVER APPEARED, NO ZARA, NO H&M, THERE WAS LE CHATEAU.

I GREW UP IN VANCOUVER AND IN THE LATE 1970’S, AND THERE WAS LITTLE FASHION, AND WHAT THERE WAS NOT CHEAP.

THERE WAS ONE SHOP IN VANCOUVER WHERE ONE COULD FIND THE HIP AND IT WAS “CLARK’S PLACE”. FOR GUYS AND GALS. OWNED AND OPERATED BY CLARK AND UNA SCHACTER. THEY WERE FROM MONTREAL AND THEY HAD AN EDGE. THEY BROUGHT IN A MUCH COOLER LOOK THAN ANYONE ELSE. I WORKED THERE, BRIEFLY, ON THE FLOOR AND DOING SOME BASIC BOOKEEPING. MOSTLY TO GET THE DISCOUNT,(BUT EVEN THERE I WAS ASKED TO TONE DOWN MY LOOK: 3 PIECE SUIT, STRING TIE, WITH PANTS TUCKED INTO FRYE BOOTS) SO I DIDN’T LAST. BUT I STILL SAVED UP AND BOUGHT, UNTIL LE CHATEAU ARRIVED.

TALES OF “CHATEAU’S” EXISTENCE HAD COME FROM FRIENDS WHO HAD “BEEN EAST” AND COME BACK WITH THE SHOPS TREASURES-SO-COOL-AND-NOT-EXPENSIVE. IT WAS FNALLY IN VANCOUVER. THE HIP-AND THE-NOT-SO-HIP QUICKLY CONVERGED ON THE NEW PACIFIC CENTER MALL SHOP. YOU COULD BUY A WHOLE OUTIFT FOR THE PRICE OF ONE PIECE ANYWHERE ELSE. IT GREW, THEY ADDED ANOTHER OUTLET IN RICHMOND SQUARE.THEY DID FASHION SHOWS IN ARTISITS LOFTS, THE VERY COOL KNEW HOW TO SHOP IT AND MAKE IT THEIR OWN.

I LEFT FOR TORONTO ABOUT THAT TIME, ONLY TO END UP A FEW SHORT MONTHS LATER WORKING AT PARACHUTE, OWNED AND OPERATED BY NICOLA PELLY AND HARRY PARNASS. THEY HAD MET WHILE SHE WAS DESIGNING CLOTHES AND HE INTERIORS, FOR LE CHATEAU. THEY, COMBINING THEIR CREATIVE SMARTS CREATED PARACHUTE AND TOOK FASHION TO AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL NO ONE ELSE IN CANADA HAD ATTAINED AT THE TIME. THEY RODE INDUSTRIAL CHIC TO THE TOP.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT LE CHATEAU, AT WHAT I THINK MIGHT OF BEEN THEIR PEAK, THE FALL 1979 INSERT (I SADLY DON’T KNOW TO WHICH MAGAZINE). IT STANDS AS A TRUE TESTIMONIAL OF THE ZEITGEIST OF 1979.

“CHATEAU” IS STILL WITH US, BUT SEEMINGLY FORGOTTEN AND LEFT TO OUTER BOROUGH MALLS, NO LONGER THE HIPPEST OR THE FASTEST OR THE CHEAPEST, BUT, STILL GOING. AMAZING! I FONDLY REMEMBER WHEN…

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