The First Look at Missy Elliott’s Tour Costumes, Designed by June Ambrose

When Missy Elliott takes the stage on Thursday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, it’s not just the concert that will be out of this world, it’s also the costumes.

The 24-city tour that hits major North American cities before wrapping up Aug. 22 in Rosemont, Ill., marks the first headlining tour for the multiplatinum-selling rapper, singer, songwriter and producer. Called “Out of This World,” the tour will also feature Busta Rhymes, Ciara and Timbaland.

“This is an incredible time in my life as I am experiencing so many milestone ‘firsts.’ Being the first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and now going out on my first headline tour,” the four-time Grammy Award-winning artist said. “Fans have been asking me to tour forever, but I wanted to wait until I felt the time was right because I knew if I was ever going to do it, I had to do it big, and I had to do it with family. So get ready to be taken ‘Out of This World’ with me, Busta Rhymes, Ciara and Timbaland.”

Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott

Derek Blanks with crowdMGMT

To bring her intergalactic vision to life, Elliott turned to her longtime collaborator, celebrity stylist June Ambrose, who created nearly 250 costumes for Elliott and her dancers.

“I did 246 costumes — Missy wanted eight costumes and the dancers have two changes,” Ambrose said.

Hanging out with Elliott is nothing new for Ambrose. She’s been working with the artist since her first album, “Supa Dupa Fly,” in 1997, and also helped her with her Adidas collaboration. Elliott inked a deal with the German sports brand in 2004 and launched her Respect M.E. collection that year.

So there was no question who Elliott would work with on the costumes. “June and I go way, way, waaay back and we created my most iconic looks together, so who better to collaborate with for this tour?” Elliott told WWD in an email. “She knows me and knows what I expect when it comes to costuming. She understands the way I think and sees fashion through my same lens.”

Although creating so many looks would generally take her six months, Ambrose said she only had one month to get the outfits completed. Up until a week before the first show, she was still tweaking things to ensure everything was perfect. “It was a heavy lift, but we’re getting it done,” she said.

Ambrose described the looks overall as “performance sportswear with costume design attributes.” Think lots of nylon and technical fabrics with “modern streetwear silhouettes.” Some of it is reminiscent of the black dominatrix-style catsuit with jewel embellishment that Ambrose created for a bald-headed Elliott in her breakthrough “She’s a B—h” music video in 1999.

For the tour costumes, Elliott worked closely with Ambrose to bring her vision to life. “I will say humbly that everything you see, hear and experience on this tour started out in my mind and thank God I was blessed and lucky enough to have an amazing team around me that had the talent to execute my vision to perfection,” Elliott said.

The show is broken down into four acts, Ambrose said, each requiring its own distinct personality. “From the Jetsons to a rave,” she said with a laugh. There are oversize puffer coats, overalls, baseball jerseys and lots of bejeweled accents.

To open the show, “Missy comes from what I call the Juniverse, or the universe, and gets out of a spaceship with her moon men,” Ambrose said. They’re all dressed in space suits for the first 10 songs.

The second act is supposed to replicate being under water and is intended to reference everything going on with the climate and our waterways. The outfits are based on current fashion trends, Ambrose said.

In act three, Elliott makes a visit to a red-light district, Ambrose said. “It’s sexy but futuristic, colorful and provocative.” And the outfits feature stones because “Missy is a rock star,” Ambrose said.

The final act offers an “Old School” aesthetic “mixed with graffiti and streetwear,” Ambrose said. Neon Dayglo prints, baseball hats with mohawks — “it’s fun. It’s like a time lapse, hip-hop of the ’80s and ’90s right to the future.”

Overall, Ambrose described the “Out of This World” show as “very high energy, fast paced. It’s a show you have to see over and over to discover everything you missed the first time.”

For Elliott, there were a couple of must-haves. As she described it: “A faja lol. But seriously, stoning. I love the way the crystals sparkle when I’m moving on stage and the lights hit. I must have everything stoned out from head to toe.”

To ensure that the costumes will work for fans in the pit or in the highest reaches of the stadiums in which Elliott will be performing, Ambrose said she heads up to the last rows in an arena during rehearsals to see for herself just “how the costumes are reading. When we create for stadium shows, it needs to work no matter where you are, even the nose-bleed seats.”

She said she’ll accompany Elliott to the first couple of shows on the tour to see if anything needs to be tweaked and to ensure the team in charge of the wardrobe knows how to best take care of the clothes.

Off stage, Elliott said her style depends on her mood, “but for the most part I’m a sporty girl as I like to be comfortable. On stage I have to be comfortable as I want to focus on my performance and not have to worry about my clothing, but I definitely always push the envelope when it comes to my show looks to come up with costumes that reflect my persona and complement the visuals of the show. I also like to do a lot of costume changes during my shows, so I wear a lot of jumpsuits because they’re easy to get on and off.”

Once the tour is over, Elliott said she’ll hang on to the wardrobe.

“I usually keep my costumes for my personal collection but a few of them are on display at museums and exhibits like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, I recently pulled some of my old costumes from over the years out of the vault and did a little photo shoot I posted on my page. That was a lot of fun to go down memory lane, but these outfits represent my journey and are a reflection of my creativity, and who knows, they might inspire future fashion trends.”

For Ambrose, once she’s satisfied that the clothes are being taken care of and the crowd gets the message for each of the looks, Ambrose will “head back into my world.”

Ambrose, who has more than three decades of experience as a stylist, had served as creative director of Puma Hoops for three years and was named to WWD x Footwear News x Beauty Inc’s Women in Power list in 2023. She spearheaded the launch of Puma’s first women’s basketball line and was instrumental in the designs shown by the sports brand at New York Fashion Week in September 2022.

However, she parted ways with Puma when her contract expired at the end of 2023.

She said she’s currently working on some projects that will result in “new developments in the consumer-facing, lifestyle space.” But she declined to reveal more, saying only that it will be a multimedia project that “makes sense for the Juniverse.”  

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