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Charlotte Ronson Explains Why She Loves the '90s So Hard

London-born, Manhattan-bred designer Charlotte Ronson launched her label in 2000. And in the 12 years since, she's built a veritable empire based on her feminine-meets-grunge aesthetic. Her playful floral sundresses, signature suede wedge sandals and teensy bikinis—part of a long-running collaboration with her BFF Shoshanna Lonstein-Gruss—are loved by Blake Lively, Kelly Osbourne and Nicole Richie. Last year, Charlotte introduced her own beauty line with Sephora, which you can now shop (along with select, specially-chosen pieces from her ready-to-wear collection) on Gilt Groupe. Read on for our Q&A with the designer, then shop her favorite items from her Gilt sale in our slideshow.

Lucky: Anyone familiar with your brand knows that you're a big fan of '90s style. What is it about that particular decade that speaks to you?

Charlotte Ronson: I grew up in that decade! I love the music and the rebellion against fashion that was happening at that time. It’s still very relevant now, and I think it will continue to evolve as our youth culture evolves. I’m particularly inspired by the minimalism and androgyny of the '90s, the casual throw-on attitude. I like the idea of mixing in feminine elements and modernizing the silhouettes so it feels newer, and at times wrong—but that’s what's so perfect about it. It’s unexpected.

You've been designing for over a decade now! How did you go about selecting your personal favorite pieces for this Gilt Groupe sale?

I really thought about the Gilt customer. I only wanted to give them my favorite options that can work for different occasions, look great on different body shapes and truly feel like Charlotte Ronson pieces.

What was it like making the transition into beauty? What was the first beauty product you ever created?

Really exciting! I had been partnering with Sephora for a while on makeup for my runway show, and it has always been an easy process with them. They always do an impeccable job at translating the look and vision of my girl on the runway. The first beauty product that I created with Sephora was the “Perfect Mess,” a hairspray that helps you create the perfect "beach hair" look. It’s now my signature item and one of the bestsellers in the collection.

You also design a diffusion line for JCPenney, I Heart Ronson. How is your approach different when it comes to designing for a mass retailer, and what challenges does it present?

The design vision is the same, but the approach has to be a little more calculated and definitely more trend-driven. The hardest challenge is finding good fabrics that are interesting, have a nice hand feel and are within our budget. It’s a challenge that is worth the time and effort. My customers should have quality design, fit and materials at any price point. It is always a priority of mine. The best part is having the full support of JCPenney, their team and resources so I am able to create the designs that I love.

Let's talk shoes for a moment. Your suede wedge sandals and ankle boots are a fashion fixture at this point. Why do you love wedges so much? Do you remember the first pair you ever designed?

Wedges are your best friend! They give you height, stability and comfort all at the same time, and they look great on your feet. The first pair I ever made had red and white stripes, and were embroidered with cherries.

What are a few items from your beauty collection you can't live without during the summertime—and why?

  • Charlotte Ronson All Eye Need Eyeshadow Quad in Henrietta has unique light-filter technology, so no matter which angle the light comes from, it gives your eyes the right luminosity. The palette of soft pinks and browns work from day to night and complements all
  • Charlotte Ronson Double XO Lipstick/Lipstain in Katherine is my go-to red lipstick color. I use the lipstain for day and the lipstick at night, but they’re also great to wear together.
  • Charlotte Ronson A Perfect Mess Beach Hair is the perfect beach spray—and was actually inspired by my mother. She always has
    that perfec beach-chic, tousled hair. To develop waves and texture, spray it throughout wet or moist hair. Its light scent reminds me of
    a perfect beach day. Plus, it moisturizes and also protects your hair from the sun.
  • Charlotte Ronson 2 X A Charm Blush/Bronzer in Abby & Mindy was partly named after Abby Elliott, an amazing actress and comedienne on Saturday Night Live. She always looks fresh-faced and glowing. Mindy Kaling is also
    an amazingly talented actress and writer, and her cheeky personality inspired the other half of this vibrant color combination.

You come from quite the creative family. How have your mother (jewelry designer Ann Dexter-Jones), brother (DJ, musician and producer Mark Ronson) and sister (singer, songwriter and DJ Samantha Ronson) influenced your own career path?

Seeing my mother, Mark and Samantha being able to build careers out of doing something they love showed me that it's possible to
follow your passion, be creative and become successful.

Finally, coming from such a musical background, you must have a killer summer playlist. Which artists are you loving right now?

Fun., Samantha Ronson and the Undertakers, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright and The Black Keys.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Ronson.


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