Fashion & Beauty

Parachute: Subversive Design and Street Fashion

A chronicle of the pioneering and subversive brand Parachute and its influence on the evolution of fashion in the 1980s and beyond.

From its beginnings inspired by New Wave subculture to its position as an international fashion sensation, the Parachute brand from Montreal was recognized for its visionary, bold apparel and innovative concept stores.

Avant-garde in attitude and design, Parachute brought together high and low, the establishment and the underground. The clothing was defined by androgynous looks, oversized silhouettes, elevated essentials, and graphic references to past and future, from exaggerated trench coats to “space samurai kimonos.” Together with a considered retail presence, which combined an industrial aesthetic in the stores with exuberant photography campaigns, the brand created a vision for street fashion that is keenly relevant today.

Walker explores the history of the brand through hundreds of images, many never published, including personal photography from the founders of the label alongside striking editorial and campaign imagery. A go-to label for stars like Madonna, Peter Gabriel, and David Bowie, Parachute both encapsulated the exuberance of the 1980s and signaled the future in clothing and retail.

Uniquely designed with ephemera layered over photographs as if in the founders’ own scrapbooks, this is a definitive insight into a highly influential cult 1980s brand, and a key reference for fashion historians and designers alike.

The text for this book is in both English and French.

About The Author

Alexis Walker is associate curator of dress, fashion, and textiles at the McCord Stewart Museum in Montreal.

Nicola Pelly is one of the co-founders of Parachute.

  • Publish Date: May 07, 2024
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Design - Fashion & Accessories
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 8-1/4 x 11-3/4
  • Pages: 360
  • US Price: $65.00
  • CDN Price: $85.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-9972-2


"David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Madonna all wore it; so did Don Johnson in Miami Vice. The brand was Parachute, an avant-garde 1980s label inspired by the New Wave scene, formed by British clothing designer Nicola Pelly and American architect and urban planner Harry Parnass in 1977 Montreal. Walker’s new book on the line (which shuttered in 1993) grew out of an acclaimed 2021 exhibition mounted by the associate curator of fashion at the city’s McCord Stewart Museum, and explores the subversive global brand’s genesis, influence (on street fashion as well as concept-store retail design) and lasting relevance." — Zed, The Zoomer Bookclub