Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ’80s receives the prestigious Richard Martin Exhibition Award from the Costume Society of America - McCord Stewart Museum


May 8, 2023

Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ’80s receives the prestigious Richard Martin Exhibition Award from the Costume Society of America

Communiqué de presse

Montreal, May 8, 2023 – For the fourth time, the McCord Stewart Museum team will receive the prestigious Richard Martin Exhibition Award from the Costume Society of America (CSA). After the exhibitions Clothes Make the Man (2003), Reveal or Conceal? (2009), and Fashioning Expo 67 (2017), this year the limelight is on Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ’80s (2021). Curated by Alexis Walker, Associate Curator, Dress, Fashion and Textiles at the McCord Stewart Museum, the exhibition featured some sixty outfits and over 140 archival documents, spotlighting the famous clothing brand founded by British clothing designer Nicola Pelly and American architect and urban planner Harry Parnass in Montreal in 1977.

“I am honoured to accept this award from the Costume Society of America on behalf of all my colleagues at the McCord Stewart Museum. The development of a fashion exhibition is a collaborative, museum-wide affair. Winning this award bears witness to the talent, hard work and creativity of the entire McCord Stewart team, of which I am proud to be a part of,” says Alexis Walker.

“We are honoured to receive this recognition from our North American peers for the fourth time. This award recognizes not only the exceptional quality of the exhibitions produced by the Museum’s team but also the influence of its work in the international museum community. This award also demonstrates that the McCord Stewart Museum, through the research it conducts and disseminates and its ability to innovate, is an essential institution for anyone who wants to understand and appreciate fashion,” says Anne Eschapasse, President and CEO of the McCord Stewart Museum.

Richard Martin Exhibition Awards

Costume Society of America’s Richard Martin Exhibition Awards recognize outstanding costume exhibitions presented by both small and large institutions. Award-winning exhibitions demonstrate excellence and innovation in the interpretation and presentation of costume, providing a transforming experience to both students of costume and the public. Up to two awards are given annually to exhibitions of differing sizes and funding. The award-winning institutions each receive a certificate, a monetary award, and a travel stipend for a representative to present a plenary presentation at the next year’s symposium, all of which are funded by the CSA Endowment.

Richard Martin Exhibition Awards, first given in 2002, are named for Richard Martin (1947-1999), curator of costumes at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Fashion Institute of Technology. An outstanding scholar, lecturer, author, and the curator of many critically acclaimed costume exhibitions, Richard Martin was a Fellow of the Costume Society of America, and served on its Board of Directors, as editor of CSA’s scholarly journal Dress, and as president of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

The exhibition Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ’80s

From its beginnings inspired by New Wave subculture to its position as a veritable international fashion sensation, the Parachute brand from Montreal was recognized from New York to Tokyo for its visionary, bold apparel and innovative concept stores. The exhibition explored the history of the brand, a go-to label for stars like Madonna, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie, while immersing visitors in the exuberance of the 1980s.

From November 19, 2021, to April 24, 2022, more than 90,000 visitors were able to admire Parachute’s androgynous and avant-garde designs through some 60 outfits (including two stage outfits from Peter Gabriel’s personal collection), discover over 140 archival documents including sketches, ads, fashion and event photography from Montreal’s nightclub scene, exclusive interviews, video clips from fashion shows and concerts, and music by Men Without Hats, Peter Gabriel and Montreal’s FHANG.

The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue titled Parachute: Subversive Design and Street Fashion, designed and published by Perron—Roettinger, a celebrated Los Angeles-based design studio, in collaboration with the McCord Museum. Organized in three chapters, it delved deeper into the themes presented in the exhibition and featured photographs, archival documents, and interviews with key players in the brand’s history, like Nicola Pelly, Harry Parnass and Peter Gabriel.

Credits and curatorship

The exhibition is organized by the McCord Museum.

Curator: Alexis Walker, Associate Curator, Dress, Fashion and Textiles, McCord Museum
Project Manager: Caroline Truchon, McCord Museum
Associate Curators: Nicola Pelly, co-founder of the Parachute brand, and Stéphane Le Duc, journalist at Dress to KILL magazine and professor at the ESG-UQAM École supérieure de mode
Exhibition design: Atelier Zébulon Perron
Audio-visual : BLVD
Graphics: Principal

Download the documents

Pres release (Word)

Press images

Object photographs
Exhibition views

The McCord Stewart Museum


The McCord Museum has the largest museum collection of Canadian garments and accessories. Its Dress, Fashion and Textiles collection consists of over 20,000 items made or worn in Canada over the past three centuries. The custodian of many examples of mid-20th century high fashion created by Montreal, Canadian and international designers and couturiers, the McCord preserves the history of Montreal’s apparel industry and retail clothing sector. In the fall of 2019, the McCord Museum launched EncycloFashionQC, a unique online reference tool with over 500 entries documenting who’s who in the Quebec fashion industry, from the 19th century to the present day.


The McCord Stewart Museum presents life in Montreal, past and present. Rooted in the heart of the city for more than 100 years, it bears witness to the creativity, diversity and vitality of the communities that make up the metropolis. It designs and creates educational, cultural and community exhibitions and activities that take a critical and inclusive look at social history and contemporary issues. It is also engaged in sustainable development and decolonizing its practices. The Museum’s collections of Archives, Documentary Art, Dress, Fashion and Textiles, Indigenous Cultures, Material Culture and Photography, containing 200,000 objects and works of art, 2,150,000 photographs, 3,500 rare books and 340 linear metres of textual archives, position it as the custodian of a remarkable historical heritage and one of the leading history museums in North America.

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