Born c. 1977, in London, England; daughter of Laurence Ronson (a real estate developer) and Ann Dexter-Jones (an author). Education: Graduated from New York University, c. 1998.
Addresses: Home—New York, NY. Office—c/o C. Ronson, 239 Mulberry St., New York, NY 10012.
Founded clothing label C. Ronson, 1999; opened first retail store in New York City, 2001; entered into partnership with Sanei International, Inc., for expansion into Asia and new "Charlotte Ronson" line of women's wear, 2006.
Charlotte Ronson founded her own fashion-design business not long after earning her art degree, but had always seemed destined for a high-profile career. Along with her siblings, Mark and Samantha, Ronson emerged as part of a fresh set of young hipster/socialites on the New York scene in the late 1990s, and all three were frequently featured on the pages of fashion magazines as harbingers of a new breed of second-generation scenester. The daughter of an equally famous mother, Ronson credits her spirited family with pushing her toward a creative career. "We were brought up to find a passion in life and just go for it," she told People magazine.
Ronson is the offspring of a rather storied, rock-royalty family. Her British mother, Ann Dexter-Jones, was a native of Liverpool and heiress to the Gaumont-Odeon Cinemas fortune; others in the clan went on to impressive careers in British politics. As a young woman, Ronson's mother became immersed in London's heady rock scene, first as a clothing designer and later as the wife of Laurence Ronson, Charlotte's father. His family owned the Heron Company, a property firm that at one time was one of largest privately held companies in Britain. The Ronsons were friendly with members of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and Ann became known for hosting parties with stellar guest lists.
Born in the late 1970s, Ronson was one of three children from her mother's first marriage; Mark was the older brother to her and Samantha, her fraternal twin. Dexter-Jones moved the family to New York City when the twins were five years old when her marriage to Laurence Ronson ended, and later wed Mick Jones of the rock band Foreigner, who reportedly wrote the band's sole No. 1 hit, "I Want to Know What Love Is," for her. The family settled in the San Remo apartment building on New York's Upper West Side, and Ronson's mother continued to throw legendary parties with a roster of famous guests, among them the Lennon family, Andy Warhol, and Bruce Springsteen. Ronson and her siblings were friends with other children of rock stars, among them the offspring of Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda; for a number of years Mark Ronson was best friends with Sean Lennon, the son of another Beatle, John Lennon, and his widow, Yoko Ono.
Ronson, who described herself as "always obsessed with clothes, dolls, magazines, and fashion," as she told a writer for the London Evening Standard newspaper, attended a private girls' prep school in Manhattan, Nightingale-Bamford. There she became friends with Shoshanna Lonstein, who began dating comedian Jerry Seinfeld during her senior year. Despite the high-profile friends and freewheeling lifestyle, Ronson told New York magazine writer Nancy Jo Sales that her mother was always strict with her children, which included two who came from the marriage to Jones. "When Mummy grounded us, she would make me and Samantha do, like, seven cultural things, like seven weekends of classes at the Art Students League," Ronson recalled. The punishment likely had some positive benefit for Ronson, who went on to major in studio art at New York University and became the first among her siblings to earn a college degree.
The New York magazine profile, titled "House of the Rising Ronsons," appeared in May of 2000, and was solely focused on the Ronson children and their up-and-coming status as New York tastemakers. By then, Mark had been working as a DJ and music producer, and Samantha had followed him into the music business, first as a DJ and later as a recording artist. Ronson took a slightly more sedate career path, working as an intern at Harper's Bazaar and Rolling Stone magazines and for fashion designer Cynthia Rowley. Her first forays into making her own clothes came when she began to add custom elements to vintage T-shirts. "I started off making pieces for friends," she told the Evening Standard, "and then people started being photographed wearing them; Gwen Stefani wore one of my designs, Kate Moss picked a piece for a shoot and then stores wanted to stock them."
Ronson launched her own label in 1999 with the help of hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, owner of Roc-A-Fella Records and the even more successful clothing line Rocawear. Dash had signed Samantha to his record label, and then decided to back Ronson's design aspirations. The label, C. Ronson, was followed by a small boutique of the same name in New York's NoLita neighborhood. In 2003, Dash bought the brand outright, but Ronson retained creative control. "I've always been nervous about business," she confessed to Julee Greenberg in a WWD article about her label's new parent company. "I am more of a creative mind than a business mind. Before Damon, my mom would help me here and there, but she was really just looking out for my best interests as her daughter. Damon is such a great friend and I trust him. He knows the business and how to make these deals."
The Dash deal allowed Ronson to expand her line into footwear, menswear, and even an intimates line called Tooshies; these were boy-style briefs designed for women. In the summer of 2004, her store moved to a much larger retail space on Mulberry Street. She also began opening stores in Japan, thanks to a deal with Japanese apparel group Sanei International Inc., which bought the right to use her trademark in Asia. Ronson remained a fixture on the New York social scene, and her family's exploits were even followed back in their hometown. "Part socialite party twins, part multi-tasking creative powerhouse, Charlotte and her sister," wrote Polly Vernon in the London Observer, "have elevated the business of being young, buzzy, and beautiful in Manhattan into an art form."
In early 2005, Ronson and Dash formally ended their partnership, and she headed into new territory with her Japanese financiers. A new label was launched later that year, using the name "Charlotte Ronson" instead of just her first initial, and she was quite ready to move into a new direction. "The line used to be young contemporary," she explained to Lauren DeCarlo in WWD, but noted, "I've grown up, my style has grown up, and I want the line to grow into a full collection."
Evening Standard (London, England), June 30, 2006.
New York, May 8, 2000.
Observer (London, England), October 17, 2004, p. 6.
People, August 2, 2004, p. 104.
WWD, July 17, 2003, p. 10; July 1, 2004, p. 10; Dec 8, 2005, p. 14.