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American designer Charles Nolan dies

Designer Charles Nolan, right, shows a fireman-inspired wool

Designer Charles Nolan, right, shows a fireman-inspired wool coat from his Fall 2002 collection for Anne Klein, to his father, Phil Nolan, a former Hempstead, N.Y. firefighter, backstage in NYC. Nolan died Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011. He was 53. Credit: Richard Drew, File / AP Photo

Charles Nolan, 53, the designer known for classic American sportswear with a twist, died Sunday morning at his home on the Upper West Side in Manhattan of cancer of the head and neck, according to his partner, Andrew Tobias.

Nolan, who was raised in Brooklyn and Massapequa, worked for other great American design labels such as Bill Blass, Ellen Tracy and Anne Klein, which he left in 2003 to pursue his passion for politics when he volunteered for the Democratic presidential campaign of Howard Dean. 

Upon his return to the fashion fray in 2004, he began producing his own label of crisp, tailored clothes that were both wardrobe staples yet whimsical, many offering the wearer a fashionable wink: beading on a Fair Isle sweater, a structured blazer with belled sleeves, a conservative wool jacket with fireman stripes and toggle closures.  He was often hailed for his sense of humor and the form-flattering cut of his designs.

An excerpt of a Newsday review for a collection in 2007 summarized his unique perspective: “What a joyous romp at Charles Nolan's showroom where quirky and irreverent seamlessly met refined and elegant. At the end (of the show), Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s Fashion Director, gushed, ‘I loved it, He has such spirit and he is always Charles Nolan.’”

Funeral services will be held Wednesday at Blessed Sacrament Church in Manhattan, reports Women’s Wear Daily.

See photos from a past Charles Nolan show


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