You'd never know June Ambrose is 5'3. Equipped with seven-inch Louboutins, towering turbans and a lot of advice, the celebrity stylist known for putting Missy Elliott in inflatable rubber appears quite tall.
"I call it glamour-flaging," she said. "A stylish way to camouflage." The key? Eccentric touches that let people know you've walked into a room. "A bold lip, a silk frock, a vintage kimono."
Starting tonight, Ambrose will bring her offbeat version of glamour-flaging to VH1 with the premiere of "Styled by June," a reality TV show that follows Ambrose and her assistants as they try to revive the careers of celebrities who have fallen from grace. Mischa Barton (who played Marissa on "The O.C.") and Jaleel White (who played Urkel on "Family Matters") are two of the best known.
"Mischa was drowning and needed to take a break from the spotlight," Ambrose said, likely referring to the actress's stint in rehab after Barton's character was killed off. "So it was hard for her to trust me."
Trust is earned, and Ambrose has a 20-year career to stand behind. In addition to her recent styling gig on "The X Factor," she has worked with music heavyweights P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. During that time, she has found ways to add edge to cords, cufflinks and cardigans -- not an easy feat in the hip-hop world.
Ambrose also has a devoted husband, 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. "I bring my daughter to fashion shows and ask her advice," Ambrose said. "I value her opinion because it's so untainted."
Ambrose's maternal instinct no doubt played a part in her success with the 26-year-old Barton who started out extremely timid. "The paparazzi sucks the soul out of you," Barton says at the beginning of the first episode. "There [have] been a lot of negative things said, and I really feel like June could help me with that."
The plan? Demure, lacy frocks, soft hair and barely there makeup. "She didn't want to be scantily clad," Ambrose explained, "and she wasn't yet secure enough to show her legs." Nevertheless, many fashion designers Ambrose contacted were wary of getting involved with a celebrity who had recently fallen on hard times.
"When I called designers to get Mischa front row at Fashion Week, a lot of people said no," Ambrose recalled. "There were a lot of closed doors."
Jaleel White was a challenge, too. It was hard to erase the image of Urkel, the beloved character with the red glasses, yellow suspenders and a plaid button-down. "It was the big elephant in the room, and I felt like I had to combat that," Ambrose said.
Preppy clothes by Paul Stuart were the weapons of choice. "It was important for people to see him in a suit and say, 'Wow. He's all grown up. Urkel really is gone.'"
Would he wear the green suede shirt again? "It's not too practical for the LA climate," White said. "But I'm all about the brown cords."
"June has a knack for getting a client to say, 'Why the hell not? I'll give it a try.'"
Styled by June premieres on VH1 on March 19 at 9:30 PM EST.