A really good image is worth a thousand words. But a really good image in 2017 is worth a thousand words and can rack up over 88,000 likes—at least that's the thinking behind Keke Palmer’s new groove.
For Michael Benyamin, Palmer’s 20-something stylist who's better known as Maikeeb on Instagram, the philosophy behind Palmer’s too-cool-to-care aesthetic is bound by one idea: Can this go viral? Take, for instance, the leather Namilia chaps Palmer wore in December. They were odd, oversize, and contained a slight nod to bondage. Most importantly, however, they were covered with Leonardo DiCaprio’s face.
"I started to think, what is a pop culture moment that is really going to give everyone, like, a gag, in Keke's words," Maikeeb tells InStyle on tracking down the pants (which paid homage to DiCaprio’s iconic role in Titanic) the night before she wore them. "It was the most talked about outfit that she wore."
Aside from an aggressive nod to ‘90s streetwear, Maikeeb and Palmer’s work together is, at least from afar, all about making headlines. And it works. “She loves to accessorize. She loves to chunk up as many rings, obviously within reason,” he says. “Just more streetwear, you know? We love the term 'hood-rich.' She loves the ‘90s, early 2000s—that fashion era.”
Recently, Palmer has taken to Instagram to share images, often in a series of threes, that reflect her independent style. They’re bold. They’re sexy. And they’re intertwined with poetic captions chosen to remind you that there is no one quite like Keke Palmer. “Queen in McQueen,” she wrote in one, just days after reminding us that there is indeed no decade like the ‘90s:
Her radical style is due in large part to Maikeeb, who also prefers an over-the-top look. “I became enamored with the fashion industry through a pop star that I used to love for a very long time, and that was Gaga,” he says. “That’s really when I became the most enamored with fashion. I was trying to find out who she’s wearing next or who these other pop stars are wearing.”
Pop stars are still a source of inspiration for Maikeeb. “I really love girls like Lourdes, Madonna’s daughter. I really love Christina Milian, she’s amazing. I love Teyana Taylor. Bebe Rexha’s amazing,” he adds. For now, his focus is on one client: Keke. “Her energy is my energy. It just clicked.”
This article, by Jonathan Borge, first appeared on InStyle.com