Written by | Ray Cornelius 

It was all about fashion  Friday night  during Macy’s Black History Month event, “A Celebration of The Soul Era” with industry rock stars, June Ambrose and Johnetta Boone. The tour made its second stop at Atlanta’s Lenox Square Mall and featured a lively discussion between the ladies about black style from the 60’s and 70’s and how it shaped America and global culture. Ambrose, is a celebrated fashion stylist and designer while Boone is one of the most sought after costumer designers in Hollywood. Rounding out the panelists was Atlanta’s own Dr. Courtney A. Hammonds, Academic Program Coordinator for The Art Institute.

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Before the discussion, the standing room only crowd was treated to an impromptu 70’s inspired fashion show as well as a competition between a trio of rising designers whose looks ranged from Bohemian Chic to African Couture. The winner was picked by the panelists and announced midway during the program.

Event hostess and CBS anchor, Tracye Hutchins, kicked off the evening’s conversation by asking the panelists how they’ve incorporated fashions from the 60’s and 70’s into their current look. For Ambrose, who was responsible for creating “larger than life” personas for Missy Elliott and Diddy, her style has always been about recapturing the essence of black glamour while creating “iconic” looks that would transcend race and culture.

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“In order to be iconic, you have to be consistent,” said Ambrose. “If you’re consistent with things it becomes believable. That’s how you build an icon. The DNA of icons comes from consistency and confidence. It is always a designer’s dream to be able to capture a consumer with that idea.”

Ambrose shared the story of  how her love for turbans set off a world wide fashion trend that was mimicked by women as far as Dubai and China.  “I remember when I first wore a turban to fashion week. I was like an eye sore and folks were calling it a ‘mammy wrap’ and they truly didn’t get it. But I was true to it and stuck by it because I knew where it had come from and what it symbolized.  I wouldn’t let it go and it became one of my most iconic moments. I even went around the world to Amsterdam, Dubai and China and saw women wearing turbans. So, I do feel partly responsible for that.”

panel discussion

Boone, who has been in the industry for over 20 years and worked on such films as “Cadillac Records” featuring Beyoncé and “Tyler Perry’s Temptation,” talked about the process of creating images for film characters and the long and arduous process to achieve that  look.

“Sometimes a lot of what we do when we’re building characters is help the actors develop ‘who the character is’ simply because they are only seeing the character on a piece of paper and otherwise don’t have a true relationship to the it. That’s where the role of my job and June’s become so important,” said Boone. “We are building characters for the large frames and screens that are in some cases as big as this building.  You have to make sure that every detail is absolutely pure, crisp, relatable and also sufficient for who the character is. It’s a long process.”

The book

Dr. Hammonds, who is also the author of the book “Reflections of Style: A Philanthropic Glance at the Arts,” chatted about taking ownership of your look and the importance of having signature pieces in your wardrobe that can be easily be worn for several occasions.

“Your wardrobe needs to be a reflection of your lifestyle and where you want to go. I think every man, woman, boy and child, needs to have those ‘capsule collections’ that are in their wardrobe which they can pick and choose from depending on the event,” said Hammonds.

After the discussion, attendees continued to enjoy the fashionable art of The Arnika Dawkins Gallery as well as delectable eats from Macy’s. Fans also lined up around the stage to get autographs and selfies with the panelists.

Check out more exciting photos below:


 Attendees enjoyed edible delights compliments of Macy’s

Gail and Bill

 Macy’s William Hawthorne with Gail Nutt of GNutt Consulting

Tracy Its Arkeedah

 Evening hostess, Tracye Hutchins/Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger, ItsArkeedah.com

Art Two

 Fashionable art from The Arnika Dawson Gallery

Its Onika and Kiwi the Beauty

 Bloggers Oh! Nikka and Kiwi The Beauty

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Panelists: Dr. Courtney A. Hammonds, Johnetta Boone and June Ambrose


 Fashion Competition Designers

kente fashions

 Kente Cloth 2.0

Caribbean Flavor Island Flavor

 Caribbean Flavors

american girl

 Bohemian Chic

tally scores

 Panelists making a decision…

Kente fashions 3

and the WINNER is…

DJ spinning

 DJ spinning the best in 70’s and 80’s music


 June Ambrose talking about being “iconic”

panel pic

 June Ambrose with Johnetta Boone

Doctor signing his book

Dr. Courtney A. Hammond signing his book, “Reflections of Style: A Philanthropic Glance at the Arts”

selfie with June

 June Ambrose taking a selfie

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com