High-low style is taken for granted in this age of Target capsule collections, but it still seems to inspire a certain amount of aren’t-we-wacky winking. Hence the barbecue/carnival/home cookin’ theme of Thursday night’s party honoring designer Charlotte Ronson’s “I [Heart] Ronson” line for J. C. Penney.
The Chelsea Piers fête offered pink-crusted cotton candy machines, a bored lifeguard on a tall pink chair and a sandbox where models played volleyball over a pink net. Guests ate fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, tiny hotdogs, tiny burgers, huge French fries and freezer-burned cups of Coldstone ice cream.
Guests ate—but it seems worthwhile to remember that this is a crowd for whom fast food and cheap clothes are a novelty. The meeting of style snobbery and the mass market remains a tricky business; witness the beating Cintra Wilson took for her “Critical Shopper” column mocking J. C. Penney’s fat mannequins and Middle American clientele .
As for Ms. Ronson’s designs, available free to guests from a booth at the back, they seemed popular despite being unremarkable and mostly polyester. Predictably, by the end of the evening, only Wilson-mocked size ‘larges’ were left in the more appealing styles.
Ms. Ronson herself wore leather shorts, bejeweled safety pin earrings and a sheer tank from the collection. She showed off a bracelet designed by her mom, but carried it in her purse—on her own wrist, she wore a tangle of friendship bracelets
She left the press enthusing over how “classy” she was in dodging questions, and how wonderful her family was in general. The Ronsons managed to engender a lot of goodwill despite proving mostly elusive. Twin sister Samantha reportedly arrived at 7:45 and dashed right in; brother Mark came at 9:30, laptop in hand, and skipped the red carpet entirely.
In the absence of the prodigy siblings (see Bazaar’s “Royal Tenenbaums”–themed photo shoot), a motley assortment of other celebrities did time along the press line. Cisco Adler gamely addressed topics that a bigger star might avoid—nude photos, ex-girlfriends. Eva Amurri rehashed her pole-dancing exploits. Sophia Bush inadvertently whacked a reporter’s tape recorder out of his hand.
“Sorry, I gesticulate a LOT,” she apologized.
Sean Lennon arrived all in white and accompanied by a beautiful girl in a translucent lace dress. Hilary Duff talked about her upcoming Gossip Girl stint, accidentally revealing to reporters that Tyra would be playing Josephine Baker. Ms. Duff praised collaborations like Ronson/Penney for making fashion “more available to America.” (The Transom salutes you, Hilary; truly you are a woman of the people.) Shrewd observers noted that Ms. Duff had brought Amazonian handlers so as to appear even tinier.
Probably the most enthusiastic guest was one of the earliest to arrive—Ann Dexter-Jones, a.k.a. Mama Ronson. She had beachy curls and a British accent, and wore sneakers and jeans with a zipper-trimmed bustier. Getting a mom talking about how great her kids are is like shooting fish in a barrel, even when the kids are famous. Ms. Dexter-Jones was delighted to chat about her children’s high I.Q.’s and the “good values” that she had instilled in them.
Samantha Ronson DJed early in the evening, a cigarette dangling from her mouth and her laptop covered in stickers for Obama, Lily Allen, England and her twin. Later, though, a band of skinny dudes took the stage, playing (among other things) a loud cover of the Mark Ronson–produced “Back to Black.” By the time they reached their second to last song, all the Ronsons (mom included) were clustered near the stage, rocking out together. New York taste together with basic fun had never looked cuter.