Charles Nolan's Fall 2004 Line

Charles Nolan's new Fall line, exclusively sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, recalls the oranges, greens, yellows, and blues that painted the 1960s - even as it contrasts the more utilitarian styles he introduced immediately after 9/11. Nolan, who splits his time between Miami and New York, will soon be opening his own store in Manhattan. For now, you can still pick up a Nolan original at your local Saks.

This line embraces just the distinction that devotees saw vanish from Anne Klein upon his departure to Ellen Tracy. Nolan subsequently departed again to work on Howard Dean's campaign. When Dean signed the civil union bill in Vermont, many gay voters were all but thrilled to endorse a candidate who was certain to protect the kind of freedom that Nolan and his partner, the DNC treasurer Andrew Tobias, are fighting for. In the months since Dean's defeat in the primaries, Nolan has shifted his endorsements to Kerry and returned to fashion.

And while this is not a new Charles Nolan, it is a Charles Nolan fresh off Dean's campaign trail. Nolan's designs celebrate a nostalgic glee and, while they are not profoundly political, they reveal shades of Nolan's partisan pastels. Of course, there is the slight the possibility that Nolan's designs beckon the liberal politics of the early to mid-1960s, when Nolan's beloved Democratic Party was still in power, and in vogue. The fabulous and perfectly political Jackie O would not be out of place dressed in the delicious nostalgia of one of Nolan's pink windowpane coats.

But let's not make this entirely political.

A difficult task, since wasn't it Nolan who softened a few edges and transformed a firefighter coat into the kind of wild accessory that would go beautifully with a Marc Jacobs bag and a Cote de Rhone at Café Stella? This time around, Nolan has taken some otherwise plain, form-fitting styles and imbued them with both color and ruffled flair to offer just the kind of political combination that might surely send mixed messages - conservative tailoring with a liberal splash of color. Nolan's rose waffle weave wool coat has a bow that ties neatly in front, dodging the garish and achieving the marvelous. His dove grey suit affords the professional without sacrificing the magnificent.

And you can't but love the Nolan's use of orange. In fact, even as the word itself single-handedly defies rhyming, Nolan's orange resists convention as it paves the way to freedom

But, seriously, let's not make this political.

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