A gracious host is a welcoming host and designer Charles Nolan knows how to make his customers feel at home. His Americana Resort collection was an exercise in gracious living.
Tables of finger sandwiches, baskets of cookies, tumblers of lemonade and iced tea were arrayed on linen covered tables. Charles proudly told us it was an in-house affair, none of the nibbles were catered but all created by family and staffers. It is that kind of attention to detail and homespun charm that is central to the appeal of the Charles Nolan brand. Everything has been thought out, tweaked, and arrayed to best highlight the designer's artful vision.
And what a tightly edited vision it was, with every piece shown serving multiple functions. Nolan informed us that in his view resort is a season for travelers which necessitates a smaller and more versatile collection to serve the needs of women that require versatile wardrobes on the go. An indigo tropical wool crepe draped trouser was light as a feather and perfectly packable. And Nolan had plenty of separates to wear it with including tennis vests, crepe cardigans, cotton smocks, and chiffon tunics. The 17 looks in the collection are supremely easy to wear, a veritable parade of Americana sportswear. A few innovations like a swim/sport skirt that doubles for sports, aquatics and day wear were particularly intriguing.
But beyond the wearable clothing there was another message. The shifting political climate towards a more hopeful America, one in which we can proudly claim citizenship, was central to the collection's appeal. Resort as a season is about internationalism, travel, and foreign lands but its clothing is also deeply routed in the sportswear tradition; a tradition given birth to by Americans and nurtured in our boardrooms, sports competitions and backyards. Charles Nolan is tapping into a change in our nation's collective psyche that showcases resort as a metaphor for a new America, one that is global in outlook but proud of its home grown style.
In other words, no longer will we be tempted to claim Canadian citizenship when on foreign soil. When the collection goes to market in January of 2009 we certainly hope it will be a new day for Americans and our style ambitions. A new president will be inaugurated after eight trying political years of war, economic woes and cultural divides both at home and internationally. If Charles Nolan has any say about it our future is bright, proud, and graciously American both at home and abroad. And nothing would please us more than feeling at home in America, and as Americans, once again.