Over the past few months, Keke Palmer has added another line to her already formidable resume: fashion icon. The actress/musician/author has been running around in wild, eye-catching outfits, moving her style in a fashion-forward and far edgier direction. And while Keke clearly has excellent taste, she also has some major help: enter stylist Mikiel “Maikeeb” Benyamin.
Mikiel is only 22 years old, and he’s already made a huge impact as a stylist (and on the internet: he has 238k Instagram followers). He started working with Keke in October, and it was a match made in heaven. “I love to have my girls make a statement,” said the stylist, who also works with Cardi B. “I love for my work to stand out completely.”
It does. Mikiel’s work has made numerous headlines (including several on this website). “Keke loves high fashion,” he said. “We love Vetements, we love Margiela, we love Alexander Wang, we love Phillip Plein. And she loves to be a little more edgy than usual. We love supporting new brands, like Weslah and Namilia. We love something that’s a little daring, but within reason.”
The outfits Mikiel styles are reminiscent of late ‘90s and 2000s fashion, and they would fit right in on a mannequin at downtown NYC store/culture hub Vfiles. Meaning they’re pretty insane, in a good way! Mikiel is already established, with his own office space, assistant, and interns. He attributes his success to working a range of internships while in school, including work with Nylon magazine and a position with Rihanna’s legendary stylist Mel Ottenberg.
“Everything I learned from Mel was eye-opening,” Mikiel said. “Working for him was a truly great experience. I love everything he does with Rih — it’s so different, and so polished, and I wanted to learn how he did it.”
But Mikiel’s initial fashion education started when he was a teenager. “I had moved to this country when I was younger, from Egypt,” he said. “And I was bullied, as you can imagine. I was completely foreign, and I didn’t really have friends here. So I found my love for fashion through a pop star that was dominating everything, a pop star who was dominating every headline. And I was like, I have to meet her, I’m such a big fan.”
That was Lady Gaga. And when he met her, the moment lead to massive virality: Mikiel is the “yas Gaga” guy. “Yas Gaga,” he famously shouts. “Yas! You look so good.” Epic. That video was so massively viewed that it’s now pretty much an indelible part of the cultural lexicon. And while Mikiel would rather be known for his career than being a meme, he doesn’t mind it too much. “It was really fun,” he laughed. “I loved it.”
But while he’s still famous online, Mikiel is focused on the daily work of styling, which is a lot tougher than you might realize. “Styling is really not glamorous,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. You have to wake up really early and make sure your emails are sent out, you have to have an office space and interns and an assistant. And when you do pack up the clothes, it’s a lot. How do you carry two or three racks of clothes? So it is glamorous, but once you turn off your phone and stop taking that selfie, all the glamour goes away.”
He’s currently gearing up for Fashion Week, where he’ll be styling for Keke. We’re sure there will be a healthy dose of glamour.
(Photo: Mikiel Benyamin)
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