June Ambrose Reveals Which Celeb's Style She Wants to "Help" [EXCLUSIVE]
The celebrity stylist lets us into her "elite" world
June Ambrose is a self-described "style-ologist" and one look at her client roster - Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige - proves just that. But now, with her own VH1 reality show, Styled by June, set to premiere next week, viewers will finally get to go behind the scenes and see just how the mother of two has become the most in-demand celebrity stylist in the business.
We caught up with June and talked about which stars she'd still like to style, what Mob Wives castmate she'd be besties with, and how she influenced Diddy!
Loop 21: Elaborate on the concept of “Styled by June.”
Ambrose: It’s definitely not about playing dress-up. It’s not, 'Let's get ready for this red carpet moment and then it’s all over.' It's about rediscovery. It’s about the journey and, more so, the moment you’re seeing things happen. It’s about the process in which I take celebrities who need rebranding and repositioning in the marketplace. The subjects on the show all have their own story, but they’re all definitely worthy of regaining their status; some of them got lost along the way. Some need help breaking out and need to make an impact. And they all come to me to work with them. Achieving iconic success or super stardom really is a journey and it’s my job to supersede their artistic personas from the inside out. It’s about the course you need to take to get to where you need to be. So, you laugh, you cry. It deals with very harsh realities.
[ALSO READ: 6 Reasons I'm Excited for 'Styled by June']
Loop 21: You've worked with the who’s-who of celebrities, but is there anyone you haven’t gotten your hands on yet?
Ambrose: I really feel like I can help Lindsay [Lohan]. I think Fantasia - I’ve worked with her before in the past and I think we need another conversation [laughs]. I like to help those who need help. I’m at the point in my life where I like developing new talent. I’ve always been the girl who is called to reposition, to redefine, to create from inception. That was always my niche in the music business and I was the go-to for that. They would hire someone else who didn’t get it right and then it was like, 'Just call June.' You’re only as good as your last job, so as long as you’re able to take the projects and make it fit into your career then it makes sense, but sometimes just chasing a dollar isn’t always the right thing to grow your brand and grow your career.
Loop 21: In the trailer, we see you styling Da Brat. Was this filmed fresh after her release from prison?
Ambrose: No, but she hadn’t really dealt with how she was going to get back in the marketplace. She couldn’t figure it out with Jermaine [Dupri]. He was saying we really needed her to get back on track mentally and emotionally, because she was somewhat defeated. I think you will see the real Brat, a side you’ve ever seen before. It’s compelling. I’m not just saying that because it’s my show and I want to promote it. I’m saying it because I lived it and it changed my life in the process. I’m able to make a difference in my clients’ lives, but they truly make a difference in my life - artistically and emotionally - because it shows how much of yourself you give when you’re a celebrity. But we laugh and it’s in a really light-hearted way. We have a good time with it.
Loop 21: What did you say to Diddy to convince him to wear the shiny suits back in the 1990s? (June is responsible for styling the iconic 'Mo' Money, Mo' Problems' video.)
Ambrose: I said, 'If it doesn’t work then fire me. Just test it. You can’t hate something you’ve never tried.' It’s like when kids say, 'I don’t like it,' but they haven’t tried it. I’ve always mothered my celebrity clients. I think I have a sense of authority. You do have to know when to back down and you do have to know when to compromise, but when it comes to the things that you’re going to do for the greater good that could change their lives, then you fight for them and make them feel like, 'I’m willing to put this on the line for you.' Then they start to understand how high the stakes are - not for them, but for you and then they’ll be more open to trying.
Loop 21: Color-blocking is in and you’re definitely responsible for helping that. What’s the trick to color-blocking successfully?
Ambrose: I like using balanced tones. Take a pattern that you love as a guideline to your color-blocking stories, whether it’s a paisley or a plaid or anything. And whenever you want to minimize an area, you want to keep the darkest tone there. So, if you’re doing a gradiation of plum, you go plum/lavender - plum would be at the bottom and lavender at the top. If you’re bottom-heavy, or if you’re doing a color-block that’s really concentrated, then do a neutral shoe and a neutral bag. You want to balance your bulge and place your blocking in a place that’s gonna accentuate your body the most.
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Loop 21: You have your own reality show now, but which ones are your guilty pleasures?
Ambrose: [Laughs] It’s tough because I don’t get to watch a lot of TV, but I’ll catch Basketball Wives every now and then. And I love Mob Wives because I have a deep voice, so I completely connect with Big Ang. Me and Big Ang will get along. I like listening to her because it makes me feel better about myself [laughs]. I think I did my whole entire season with a hoarse voice because of hours of travel and I was coming off of, like, 3 months straight of stress and I think my voice box shut down, so the entire season you’ll hear the raspiness.
Loop 21: What’s the best advice you can give someone on how to survive as a stylist these days?
Ambrose: That’s a good question because it’s a rapidly-growing business. There are so many young people that want to be a part of it. I get e-mails from people like, 'I was a lawyer' or 'I’m in the army but I want to be a stylist.' I say that it’s still an elite industry. If you find your niche and you just climb from there - what is it about you that’s so special? What is it that’s gonna make your brand so desirable? Think of yourself as a brand because other brands want to attach theirs to things that are successful, or that are at least impactful to the marketplace.
So, if you’re going to apply for a million dollar job, don’t come looking like a $2 job. It’s all in how you present your package with your talent, so visual presentation and a point of reference for your work. As long as you’re able to show your work visually, then that’s half the battle. You can’t just tell people you’re talented, you gotta show them.
Stay tuned for Part II of our exclusive interview in which June reveals:
How she deals with celebrity's sensitivity, what makes her leadership style so effective, and how she balances motherhood with work!