How Stylist June Ambrose ‘Single-Handedly Cleaned Up Hip Hop’ Style

If you weren’t paying attention on the numerous occasions we raved about June Ambrose, would a fervent nod from The New York Times make any difference? In a profile of the stylist in the Sunday Times, her rags to riches story takes us from a one-room apartment in the Bronx to gigs styling everyone from Jay-Z, Missy Elliot and The Backstreet Boys.

Ambrose, who is probably the nicest famous person we’ve ever had the pleasure of running into, has been in the news of late because she’s getting her own reality show, and she’s just been cast as the wardrobe consultant for Simon Cowell‘s new talent show, The X Factor. We’ve seen her everywhere from the front rows of shows at New York Fashion Week to red carpets product launches. But the Times reports her life wasn’t always so glamorous.

Ms. Ambrose grew up on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, in a one-bedroom tenement she shared with her single mother and older sister. As a teenager in the ’80s, she dressed in elaborate get-ups to glamour-flage her severe acne. She was often teased as the odd duck. “I’d wear a ponytail with watches in my hair or mismatched tights,” she said. “They didn’t know what to make of me.”

But now all they (they being the fashion establishment) want to do is hire her or put her on TV. Ambrose’s talent and vision is responsible for some of the greatest looks in hip-hop — both in music videos and on the red carpet.

In her 20 years in the styling business, Ms. Ambrose has created some of hip-hop’s most iconic looks. She outfitted Sean Combs in shiny metallic leather suits during his chart-topping years, Busta Rhymes in elaborate caftans (“Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”) and Missy Elliott in an inflatable rubber contraption that defied logic and gravity (“The Rain”).

Ambrose credits the infamouse costume designer Edith Head as one of her biggest inspirations — and it sort of makes sense, considering her cinematic approach to styling.

“We weren’t making videos, we were making movies,” she said. “I wanted to bring high fashion to urban music, to bring aspiration, imagination, luxury.”

And bring it, she did. So the next time you see Jay-Z in a suit you really, really like, thank June. Read the rest of her profile here.

[The New York Times]

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