NEW YORK — June Ambrose, the image-maker behind some of today’s hottest hit-making stars such as Missy Elliott and P. Diddy, has just signed an agreement with In Group Licensing, which plans to help Ambrose turn herself into a full lifestyle brand.
“You don’t have to be a celebrity to look or feel like one,” Ambrose, 32, said. “That’s the message I want to get across with this brand. I want to make these things available to a mass audience, coming from the image-maker behind today’s hottest celebrities.”
Ambrose said she plans to launch a series of products for the fall 2005 selling season and, while she regularly works in fashion, she does not plan to limit herself to that.
“This will be a full lifestyle brand,” she said. “It will be everything from apparel to fragrance to accessories to home products. I am not only a celebrity stylist, but I am a wife and a mother and I enjoy being a homemaker, so the full lifestyle of products makes sense.”
Ambrose is all about taking chances, and has been for years. She took chances with several costume creations, such as when she designed metallic suits for Sean “Puffy” Combs’ “Mo Money, Mo Problems” video, or when the Backstreet Boys needed an updated look or when she regularly studs Missy Elliott’s signature Adidas tracksuits with thousands of dollars’ worth of Swarovski crystals. Her portfolio of clients could be the largest of any stylist-costume designer working in music, including Usher, Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Will Smith, Ashanti, Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent.
Her client roster has grown so much over the years that Ambrose opened her own full service styling company, Mode Squad, which handles everything from fashion styling to hair and makeup. Today she has a team of assistants in New York and Los Angeles who travels with Elliott on tour and runs to magazine shoots at the last minute to tend to a client’s needs. Now, she is looking for a booker so Mode Squad can officially become an agency for hair and makeup artists as well.
“I just couldn’t do it all myself, especially when I started a family. When I was pregnant I couldn’t travel toward the end, so it got too difficult to do it all on my own,” she said.
On top of her celebrity styling, Ambrose has worked with Elliott and P. Diddy as a consultant on their clothing lines, appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” styles Kelly Ripa for “Regis & Kelly” and has appeared on the show on many occasions to talk about trends. Sometimes she has to do some major problem-solving — like when Elliott and her dancers all wore white outfits while they danced in the mud for the “I’m Hot” video.
“There was no way we were going to be able to keep those clothes looking clean through that scene,” she explained. “So I made my own dirt with sparkles in it, so that when the dirt got on the clothes, it just shimmered and didn’t look bad.”
Ambrose believes in chances so much that she and her husband-business partner, Marc Chamblin, named their two-year-old son Chance. She has another baby on the way, due in July.
“I think that people will really be able to relate to me because I am not a celebrity, I am a working mother with a great job creating images for the celebrities,” she said. “When my line hits the market they will be able to have a piece of that celebrity lifestyle or create their own lifestyle.”
Ambrose said she hasn’t signed her first licensing deal yet for products, but has begun talking to people. She also said she is open to partnering with a mass retailer to launch the brand.
“I do not want this line to be available only exclusively and high-end,” she said. “These are products for everyone, so I want everyone to be able to afford them.”