Mariah Carey is reinventing herself again. Actually, to be exact, nine more times.
The sexy songstress will play a handful of roles when she kicks off her new tour Saturday in Miami (see “Mariah Carey Plots Mimi‘s Touring Adventure” ). Think superhero-meets-modern-James-Bond-meets-old-Hollywood.
For the jaunt — Adventures of Mimi: The Voice, the Hits, the Tour — the R&B sensation will at times tone down her sometimes over-the-top style, wearing flowing gowns and menswear-inspired tuxedo styles designed specifically for her by celebrity stylist June Ambrose.
“The show starts off very ‘Blade Runner,’ with black-and-white, racy looks where [Mariah] looks like an R&B superhero,” said Ambrose, who cites Gianni Versace and Roberto Cavalli as inspirations. “And then her lightness comes out and she is emancipated with bright colors, showing off her great goddess legs, ready to celebrate and party.”
Carey will have nine outfit changes throughout the show but only brief interludes in which to morph into them. “My inspiration was creating an R&B hip-hop musical,” Ambrose said. “The show is cabaret-like: fun, racy, sexy, but subtle. I designed the outfits [to look] theatrical. [The concert] starts out like a black-and-white affair, and then she strips away all the rumors and she’s born again.”
Ambrose said Carey will be wearing things you “wouldn’t normally see her in,” like a white men’s blazer. “When would you ever see Mariah in a men’s blazer?” she said. “This is to give her a James Bond look. It’s very mod, very sleek.”
Ms. Carey will shake off that blazer real fast for “Breakdown,” at which point she’ll reveal garters and a black off-the-shoulder leotard encrusted with Swarovski crystals.
Ambrose calls a similar outfit, which Carey will wear toward the end of the show, one of her favorites. “It’s dyed perfectly to her skin, but it looks like she’s naked,” Ambrose said. “It looks like there are stones bouncing off her flesh. She looks like a million bucks.” And let’s not forget those blinding, one-of-a-kind legs. Don’t worry, guys: There will still be lots of skin. “She does this really burlesque, fiery number that’s very sexy,” Ambrose said.
Other sultry costumes include a sky-blue, Halston-inspired goddess gown; a sunflower-colored chiffon floor-length stunner; and a wine-colored Diana Ross-style gown, worn with a $10 million Harry Winston brooch. “Mariah’s body is voluptuous,” Ambrose said. “It’s about her finding her sexuality and nothing else.”
Also added to the mix are 7-inch stiletto high heels in black patent leather designed by Paris shoemaker Courtney Crawford. “They’re super-high, super-sexy, but she can definitely jump around in them,” Ambrose said.
We’ll be seeing a little old-school Mariah when she transforms into a superhero-like costume that features a long silver cape with the word “Mimi” displayed on the back, blindfold and platform heels. She’ll then take off the cape and reveal a pair of cute knickers (with butterflies on the back pockets, natch) and a crop top. “That’s the round-the-way girl look,” Ambrose said. “She’s the most accessible in those looks.”
While this may be Ambrose’s first time styling one of Mariah’s tours, it’s not her first time at the rodeo. She’s already worked on tours for Diddy, Missy Elliott and R. Kelly. Ambrose was the inspiration for Diddy’s red metallic suit in the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” video, Missy Elliott’s signature blinged-out Adidas tracksuits, and Jay-Z’s first suit for the “Can’t Knock the Hustle” video.
“I was there when hip-hop went from black-and-white to color,” said the Antigua-born designer, who started out in the promotions department 15 years ago at Uptown/ MCA Records and later styled bands like the Backstreet Boys.
Ambrose will also design Jay-Z’s costumes for his upcoming world tour and said she’s looking overseas for inspiration.
“I want to look at some European designers, maybe some Japanese hip-hop and animation looks,” she said. “It’s going to be more melodic. It’s him coming back, from executive to hip-hop. I’ll be going into the styling lab.”
And check it out: Ambrose will reveal her industry-insider secrets in her book “Effortless Style,” in stores October 1.