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Fashion designer Charles Nolan dies at 53

January 30, 2011 |  2:40 pm

Nolan Fashion designer Charles Nolan, known to have a passion for American classics, which he skewed with a modern edge and personal touch, died Sunday. He was 53.

Women's Wear Daily, which first reported Nolan's death on its website, said he died of liver cancer. Nolan, also noted for his interest in politics, had battled cancer several years ago, and it came back in the fall and moved aggressively, said Maggie Savage, the vintage buyer for the Charles Nolan store in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.

The store was open Sunday, said Savage, who added that its future was unclear but that she hoped it would continue.

Nolan took a hiatus from the fashion industry in 2003 and worked on former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

"He was a wonderful, very matter-of-fact person," Dean told Women's Wear Daily. "For someone who had a tall record in the world of fashion, he was surprisingly unimpressed with his own success."

Nolan returned to the fashion world in 2004 with his own label. The former designer for corporate fashion houses Anne Klein and Ellen Tracy scaled back and put his own spin on everything, down to the furniture in his store and his off-the-beaten-path runway shows. In one recent season, he featured Olympian Dara Torres on the catwalk; the year before that, dancers from the American Ballet Theater were his models.

Nolan graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and apprenticed under Bill Blass and Christian Dior before moving to Ellen Tracy. In 2001, Anne Klein hired him to revive its image as a hipper, more fashion-forward brand.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Charles Nolan, right, in 2002. Credit: Associated Press