Coming together in classic, yet contemporary Uptown Style
Mark Ronson – globe-trotting DJ, begetter of funk-laced hits, and pop collaborator extraordinaire; and Chopard – venerable Swiss watch and jewellery house, with a temperament (as far as its watches are concerned) of quiet tastefulness that can lean towards the middle aged – are not, perhaps, an obvious fit.
Although the Mark Ronson who, on a warm July day, sidles into Covent Garden’s new den of chic, the Henrietta Hotel, does bring with him a certain old school poise: in black Ray Bans and with a tooth pick dangling from his lips, he’s sporting a Gucci Hawaian shirt hanging open over a white vest, with high-cut, pleated cotton slacks and sneakers.
“It’s my ‘mobster on vacation’ look,” he says – a title apparently conferred by his latest collaborator, the rock musician Josh Homme. “I moved to LA in December. When I lived in London I was wearing a lot of black, but over there it just looks like you’re trying to defeat LA. So I went and bought four cool Hawaiian shirts – I needed a little colour.”
In his personal style, just as in his music – from creating Amy Winehouse’s definitive sound to production duties on Lady Gaga’s recent album Joanne, via a multitude of collaborations, great clutches of Grammys, four electic albums of his own and, of course, 2014’s monster hit with Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk – Ronson is an assiduous student of classic forms. He doesn’t just tick off references, he understands them implicitly.
The Stax and Motown records he grew up surrounded by [thanks to his stepfather, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones], and the hip hop beats and samples that formed his playlist as he established himself as a DJ in New York’s late-’90s party scene, are the common thread that link his myriad projects – ensuring a kind of musical literacy that keeps things fresh by being so versed in history. Most recently, this has seen Ronson bring “a more groove-oriented sound” to Homme’s heavy rock outfit, Queens of the Stone Age – their Ronson-produced album, Villains, has been heaped in plaudits since its release in the summer.
“My love of funk, soul, R&B, black American music – that’s probably where I’m the most comfortable and feel the most genuine,” he says, though it was his own, contrasting obsession with QOTSA – which saw him write to Homme with collaboration in mind – reflects an equally magpie attitude. Ronson seems instinctively programmed to recoil from the idea of ever being stuck in one place or one style.
“I love all these individual things and am going to have to express them at some point, because they’re just going to burst out of me anyway,” he says.
So what to make of the watch on Ronson’s wrist? As it happens, the Chopard L.U.C XP (£6,770) is itself a sharp and refreshing take on a celebrated style: a crisp steel dress watch that takes a more casual, paired-down approach than tends to be Chopard’s milieu. With its brushed silvery dial, blued Deco hands and textile strap – cashmere, though it could be denim at a glance – it’s a piece that wears the seriousness of its watchmaking (including Chopard’s ultra-slim in-house movement) lightly.
“I love that it’s so streamlined and elegant, but unpretentious,” Ronson says.
“It’s a gentleman’s watch, but not over the top at all.”
In fact Ronson, with his portfolio career, constant travelling and classic style, is perhaps the ideal standard bearer after all for the subtle new direction several watch brands, including Chopard, are finally taking: Swiss stalwarts gently applying more flexible designs to suit more flexible lifestyles. Obviousness, in any form, is perhaps the one enemy, as it is for Ronson.
“For me, when I wear a watch, I want to make sure I’ve got something on that hopefully no one else has – there are certain blue chip brands where, even though it’s lovely, you’re going to walk into a restaurant and other people will have it,” Ronson says. “You want an alternative, but you still want something streamlined and classic. There’s beauty in simplicity.”
This article was first published in The Telegraph
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