What do Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Missy Elliot have in common? Aside from being great entertainers, each of them have been nurtured and dressed by celebrity stylist June Ambrose. As a former investment banker, June is making the numbers work for her in a career that truly makes her happy.
While June has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, she believes that inner beauty shining through is the key to great style. In her new book Effortless Style, the diva shares countless secrets to looking good on any budget with any figure. June recently gave AllHipHop.com Alternatives a few of her valuable tips, and defined her distinctive methods of expression in the industry.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: What inspired you to write a book catering to everyday people when you work with celebrities all day long?
June Ambrose: I always say that everyone has an inner star. Everyone has star power. The magic is in the book – there are all these great tricks of the trade. My approach is very reader friendly, and its a great conversation that I am having with the reader about how not to be intimidated by fashion. Its all about finding yourself inside out and not be afraid to think outside the box.
AHHA: You were an investment banker before switching to a career you love. What advice would you give to other young people wishing to follow in your steps?
June: You have to understand its a freelance business. Your money management will change. You have to think about the business – you have to have your financials in order. In order to be creative, you have to have certain things. Think about retirement. Have as much knowledge about what youre getting into as you can. Its extremely difficult.
AHHA: How do you handle working with difficult or overly fussy clients?
June: Its more psychology than it is creative. We have to deal with the trust and the emotional issues first before we get past anything else.
AHHA: Who was your most stylish client that required the least change?
June: Mary J. Blige. She wasnt in any major disaster zone when I started working with her. We enjoyed working with each other. The chemistry was great. She has a great sense of style, and shes very true to what makes her feel good.
AHHA: Whats the worst Hip-Hop fashion of all time?
June: The bathing suit, a pair of boots, and a fur coat.
AHHA: Whats the worst fashion trend that you see today?
June: For women, it has to be women with Timberlands. I hate to see women wear mens construction boots. More teenage, younger girls do it. I just think that women should be feminine and soft, unless its a major snow storm going on. Construction boots are for construction workers. For men, I do not like the t-shirts to the knee. I call them the oversize t-shirt dresses. I think if we call them dresses, they probably wouldnt wear those.
AHHA: How important is it to look good?
June: Life is about perception. When you walk into a job interview, its all visual. The first thing they look at is what youre wearing. When youre walking in the streets, its all about whether youre homeless, or whether youre a working class person. I think appearance is so important in just surviving in the real world. I think that it definitely opens up opportunities for you when you look a certain way, depending on what your career is. It also does a lot for your confidence in who you are and how you deal and relate to people.
AHHA: A lot of the videos and commercials you have worked on have been with Hype Williams. How did you hook up with him?
June: I have known Hype for over 15 years now. I was a dancer – I am taking you back to when music video box was on and he was in production. He made his transition to directing. There was a moment when we didnt see each other. Then, when we saw each other again, it was at a R. Kelly video shoot. Weve worked with each other ever since.
AHHA: Youve worked on numerous tours with artists such as Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, and Missy Elliot. Which one was your most challenging?
June: Lets start with Missy, because Missy always has so many dancers, so thats always a big production. You dont have enough time to prep for it. Prepping a Missy Elliot tour is like prepping a musical. The same thing goes with Mariahs tour. There are so many different set-ups. The show ultimately got shaved down a lot. I also did the Bad Boy Tour with everyone on the Bad Boy roster. This was when Mase was on the label. That was a lot. Jay-Zs tour is probably the least complicated. There are no dancers. Its just him having moments. Its all fun though.
AHHA: Youve clothed Missy Elliot several times throughout her weight fluctuations. Did her confidence level change, and was it difficult as you all changed clothing selections as she became thinner?
June: Absolutely. I consider myself a style architect. It takes time to build and cultivate these images. The timing has to be right for the artist, for the marketplace and for the music. I think the way she evolved in terms of re-inventing herself had a lot to do with her weight loss. Its all in timing. She lost a person. I saw how hard she worked on it. Shes a lot more daring.
AHHA: What essential should every man and woman have?
June: For women, they should have that basic black dress. It never fails you. I think you can always count on it. You can wear it day or night. You can play it up or you can play it down. I think it is a must-have piece. Also, a trench coat and a great pair of boots. For men, I think every guy needs a great pair of cargos and a great pair of jeans – and a blazer. I think every man should have a sports coat. I dont care if youre Hip-Hop or not Hip-Hop. You must have one. You can play that up or play it down. A guy should definitely own a suit as well.
AHHA: What hot fashion trend do you forecast for the summer?
June: I see a lot of color. I see a lot of sweet girl looks. For women, its going to be softer. Not hot shorts. No one is going to be afraid of the pastels. I see a lot of texture for men. A lot of light weight knit sweaters and v-necks. Polos are going to be huge this season as well.
AHHA: As a celebrity stylist, what is your biggest challenge in the industry?
June: Just re-inventing myself – finding things that will ultimately take me to the next level. I try to approach every job that I do as something thats going to be an extension of myself and my career. Strategically, taking the right projects and not just take everything that comes to me but the things that keep me creatively inspired and interested. After 15 years of doing this, I am still passionate and excited about it.