Even with three incredibly busy careers, Mark, Charlotte, and Samantha Ronson make family a top priority. The siblings talk about their latest projects—new albums! new collections!—what it was like growing up Ronson, and the Hamptons haunts that made them who they are today.
On Charlotte: Dress, Burberry ($2,995). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-365-2050. Sandals, Christian Louboutin ($1,095). Hirshleifers, Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-3566. Jewelry, Ronson’s own. On Samantha: Pants, Dior ($1,500). Americana Manhasset, 516-365-5680. T-shirt, jewelry, watch, and sneakers, Ronson’s own. On Mark: Shirt, Valentino ($995). Saks Fifth Avenue, Walt Whitman Shops, 230 Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, 350-1100. Pants, Ermenegildo Zegna ($445). Americana Manhasset, 516-627-1934. Socks, Bottega Veneta ($120). Americana Manhasset, 516-627-7580. Derby shoes, Christian Louboutin ($945). Hirshleifers, see above. Watch, Ronson’s own
It’s no easy feat coordinating the schedules of Mark, Charlotte, and Samantha Ronson. Based in London, Mark is currently in LA working with Lady Gaga on her latest album—his most recent collaboration with a powerhouse female vocalist. Over his nearly two-decade, multiple Grammy Award-winning career, those collaborators have included Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Adele, as well as other industry icons, like Bruno Mars and Paul McCartney.
But Mark being ensconced on the West Coast is particularly appealing to his younger sister Samantha, who lives in LA. She followed her brother into the music industry, becoming a successful DJ. Samantha is currently at work on a new album for Hollywood Records with bandmates Ethan Thompson and Pete Nappi. “I am now so focused on instead of writing songs about my feelings, [writing] more about what the world needs, which is love, and maybe a little reflection,” says Samantha. “Not preaching, but pointing out the good as opposed to the negative. I feel like everyone’s just yelling as loud as they can to say the meanest bullshit, when really it’s just like, man, we can do better.”
Samantha’s twin, Charlotte, is phoning in from her holiday in Hawaii while she regroups for the next phase of her fashion design career. For the past several years, she has helmed an eponymous brand of California-casual clothes that has found a receptive audience in Hamptons boutiques like Blue & Cream. At the moment, she’s designing a capsule collection for Cayli Cavaco Reck’s Bridgehampton pop-up, Knockout Beauty by Knocking on Forty, as well as her I Heart Ronson line, available at JCPenney. “I love the summer, and my style and my aesthetic [reflect that],” says Charlotte. “My designs when I first started were basically rompers, espadrilles and wedges, and summer tank tops, so they worked really well in the Hamptons.”
Once the three siblings are in conversation, it’s easy to witness the unbreakable family bond that formed in their early days kicking around the Hamptons and that has only grown stronger, despite the miles that often separate them thanks to three flourishing careers. Mark, Charlotte, and Samantha spoke exclusively with Hamptons about the childhood lessons that made them who they are today, the memories that connect them to the East End, and which Ronson really has the best taste in music.
On Charlotte: Cardigan ($3,050), shorts ($5,350), and headband ($1,450), Chanel. Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-918-2700. Wedges, Ronson’s own. On Mark: Polo, Canali ($860). 625 Madison Ave., NYC, 212-752-3131. Trousers, Salvatore Ferragamo ($1,200). Americana Manhasset, 516-365-9765. Sunglasses, Ray Ban ($150). Sunglass Hut, Bridgehampton Commons, 2044 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton, 537-0507. On Samantha: Silk bomber, Valentino ($2,350). Saks Fifth Avenue, Walt Whitman Shops, 230 Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, 350-1100. T-shirt, jeans, and jewelry, Ronson’s own
What about your family upbringing led to all of you choosing creative fields?
Samantha Ronson: I think growing up in a household where there’s so much creativity with our stepfather [Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones]… nobody ever told us we couldn’t. I had Mark, who made this great career in deejaying, and so I just didn’t ever think that [being a DJ] wasn’t an option. Our parents just wanted to be sure that we just loved what we did. That was more important than anything else. The pursuit of money wasn’t really a big deal in our house. It was more about love.
Mark Ronson: To be fair, I had to break a little ground. It’s always like, with the first kid, the parents are neurotic, and by the fifth one they’re, like, juggling knives. My mom knew that I was incredibly passionate about [deejaying], even though in her mind she was saying, You really need to go to school and finish your degree—I was at NYU at the time. At that time, there were no trendy DJs, there were no fashion parties, and no hotel lobbies to deejay in. You were going to get $300 a night, and if you worked five nights a week, you could pay your rent, and that’s what I did. I was kind of independent. My mom and dad didn’t give us money; I paid my own way, so there was not too much for them to say, either. But my stepdad, he was definitely, like, I don’t understand. If you’re the son of a lawyer, your dad’s going to be like, When are you going to give up this music and go back to law school? My stepdad would be like, When are you going to put down these turntables and go back to the guitar? But then they would come to these hip-hop clubs—it’d be like Puffy, Busta Rhymes, Big Pun and Fat Joe, and my mom would be dancing in the booth with me. It was kind of hilarious.
As the two Ronsons working in the music industry, are you ever competitive with each other?
SR: Absolutely not. Mark’s obviously in a very different place than I am, and we do different things—I don’t produce—but Mark’s the person I go to when I have questions or when I need to pass it by somebody and I want real constructive criticism. If I want somebody to tell me they like it, I ask Charlotte.
MR: We do quite different things, but obviously we’ve always been super supportive of each other, [and] not just because “you’re my family,” but because Charlotte and Samantha are both incredibly smart. I value their opinion—Samantha especially because she’s been out here while we’re working on the record. I always play her stuff early on just to get a sense if a lyric is horrible, it’s probably going out the window.
On Charlotte: Shirt ($1,170) and pants ($1,400), Prada. Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-365-9700. Sandals, Jimmy Choo ($795). Americana Manhasset, 516-627- 5058. Bracelets, Ronson’s own. On Mark: Bomber jacket, Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane ($2,690). 1 E. 57th St., NYC, 212-980-2970. Tank top, John Varvatos ($178). 54 Newton Lane, East Hampton, 324-4440. Sunglasses, Ray Ban ($150). Sunglass Hut, Bridgehampton Commons, 2044 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton, 537-0507. Sneakers, Dior Homme ($820). Saks Fifth Avenue, Walt Whitman Shops, 230 Walt Whitman Road, 350-1100. Watch, Ronson’s own. on samantha: Pants, Ralph Lauren Collection ($750). 31-33 Main St., East Hampton, 324-1222. T-shirt, hat, jewelry, socks, and sneakers, Ronson’s own
Each of you has a very different sense of style. Charlotte, how would you describe your style versus the things Samantha and Mark gravitate to?
Charlotte Ronson: Growing up as a twin, you’re always kind of dressed the same, called “the twins” or lumped as one a lot of the time. As you come of age, the only way to really separate yourself, in a sense, is through how you look. I’ve always been much more girly. I’ve always loved the color pink and loved clothes, whereas Samantha, I feel like you looked up to Mark?
SR: I feel like in our household, you weren’t going to get attention unless you did what they did. So a lot of my earlier hobbies were more influenced by [thinking], Will they play with me if I do this? My Little Pony wasn’t getting me any love.
CR: Right, whereas for me, I didn’t care if they wanted to play with me. I wanted to play with what I wanted to play with. I just always loved designing, and that just ended up being a path, in a sense, for me.
With all the different things each of you do, how do you make time to support each other, say, when Mark is playing at the Super Bowl, or Charlotte is having a red-carpet launch for her fashion collection?
SR: There’s nothing more important than family. We were brought up [to believe] that loyalty to family is the most important thing. I remember I told on Charlotte when we were kids for going to a wrestling match at another school, and I got grounded as well, so that was kind of built in quite young.
MR: I think also the way that we grew up, moving around a lot—when you move from a different country [England], you realize these [siblings] are the only constant thing in my life. This is our crew, and that just always stayed.
SR: When Mark first told me the Super Bowl thing was going to happen, I remember it was a huge secret for so long. My DJ agent was like, What about a gig here? And I was like, No, that’s Super Bowl weekend; I can’t do that. He thought I was crazy because, number one, I don’t like football. Then finally it was announced. Nobody’s going to be more genuinely happy for you than your family. It’s just great to get to be there in the moment and share it. And then I ended up getting offered the gig to deejay Coldplay’s afterparty for the Super Bowl. I remember being in the booth with Mark that night, just having the best time, and I was like, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.
CR: I feel we’ve been lucky. I did this great collaboration with Vogue eyewear, and they did an event in New York, an event in LA, and then they did this amazing event in Paris. The Paris one was like a dream come true, but I didn’t have any family there, so I was just kind of like, Eh, what’s the point? It’s just not the same when you can’t share it with people that you love.
How have you guys seen each other change as your careers have developed?
MR: I don’t think any of us are very different at all. That’s the thing that’s so much fun. When you hang out with your family or your best friends since the third grade, you just laugh and clown like you were [a kid] again. After we all hang out for a couple hours—which honestly doesn’t get to happen as much as we’d like anymore—I feel like I’m 15 again.
CR: We are who we are, and when we spend time [together], we’re not consumed by everything else. We’re able to compartmentalize everything and still be ourselves.
Growing up in New York, did you get to spend a lot of time in the Hamptons?
SR: We were out here before we even lived in America. Our first job was being camp counselors at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Mark taught music, and Charlotte and I just kind of languished with the children.
CR: I worked with 2- and 3-year-olds. We went to summer camp here when we were kids. That’s where our mother and stepfather got married, in the Hamptons…. [Today] I love Round Swamp. Round Swamp has the best, best, best [stuff].
SR: The Quiet Clam was my favorite restaurant ever—long gone. We used to go to The Palm when we were kids. The maître d’ there would always scare us but let us play with the lobsters. That was our introduction to shellfish. And Dreesen’s doughnuts! I dream about Dreesen’s doughnuts.
MR: I have a house between Amagansett and Montauk. That’s where I proposed to my wife, on the beach at Napeague. I keep it because even though I spend most of my time back in London now, it still represents this lovely escape. It’s one of the few places that I go where you open the door and it just feels good.
You should finish your album here! We’d love to see you and Lady Gaga just strolling through town.
MR: I was sitting in Amagansett Town Square two years ago and I had just been working with Paul McCartney on his album. He just walks along with his acoustic guitar case on his shoulder, and I’m sitting with three friends who I haven’t told that I’m working with Paul. He just pops up and goes, “Hey, I heard there was a hotshot producer in town. Can I give you my demo?” That was just the coolest thing ever…. I love Amagansett Square and the record shop and the music store—I remember going when we were kids. The music store was called Long Island Sound, and that’s where you would go to get CDs. My first ever CD there was ’Til Tuesday.
SR: I bought Paul Young’s CD single “Everytime You Go Away.”
CR: And I’m sure I bought many a Madonna CD there.
SR: Charlotte always had better taste in music. Charlotte always had the cool new shit, so thank you, Charlotte and Mark, for making me cooler.
Photography by: photography by RobERT aSCRofT. Styling by Tristan Saether. Styling Assistance by Stacey Kalchman. Hair by Andy LeCompte for Wella Professionals (Samantha Ronson and Charlotte Ronson). Hair by Brian Fisher at The Wall Group using Malin+Goetz (Mark Ronson). Makeup by Jakob Sherwood at The Wall Group for Tom Ford (Charlotte Ronson). Makeup by Brendan Robertson at SoloArtists.com using Chanel (Samantha Ronson and Mark Ronson). Manicure by Tracey Sutter at Cloutier Remix using Dior Venis.