How to Break into Fashion: Keke Palmer’s Stylist Michael ‘Maikeeb Kills’ Benyamin

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I wouldn’t be surprised if you said that all you’re seeing on your timeline is Keke Palmer. Sporting burgundy braids, the 23 year old Chi town native has been heating up these December streets! It’s almost as if we don’t realize that it’s 20 degrees outside as she prances from one meeting to another in her scandalously fashionable outfits! Meet, Michael Benyamin, aka Makeeb Kills, the 22-year-old fly guy responsible for Keke’s latest looks.

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It’s not often that we come across 22 year old stylist with clients who are making such serious waves. He says, “I started to become a fan of really strong females in the entertainment industry as a teen. I became obsessed with their fashion, their fashion risks and just everything they wore. One of my biggest inspirations up until now is Gaga.” He continues, “When I turned 20 I started interning for stylists. I then interned for magazines and I became a sponge, absorbing everyone around me and how they do their work in the industry.”

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In fashion it isn’t always about degrees and accolades, often times fashion professionals have to devote years of interning under the pioneers in the industry until they get their shot. Michael says, “I actually did not (Study fashion in school). I pretty much taught myself everything that I needed to learn about fashion with the help of my internships and mentors. I attended a community college for a business degree.”

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He continues, “My style inspirations are Mel Ottenberg, whom I used to intern for, Brandon Maxwell, Shiona Turini, and one of my ultimate faves, Law Roach.”  Following in the footsteps of Law Roach, who received most of his notoriety after taking on Zendaya as a client and shutting down the fashion scene, Makeeb couldn’t have met a better muse to take the industry by storm. He added, “I’ve always loved and admired seeing a fashion story or celebrity and being able to identify who styled them based off of their outfits alone. I love stylists who’s work stands out of from bunch.” 

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20 degree weather and DKNY high waist shorts doesn’t sound so foreign to Keke Palmer and her stylist. He says that Keke is the perfect client for him because they have the same taste. “She loves high fashion street wear and finds elegance in a simple white dress or even a pastel colored fur coat and that is what I love doing.” Maikeeb says that Keke is very involved in choosing looks, “I show her looks I want to get for her, she sends me things all the time that inspire her or that she wants to wear and we get it for her. I mean we literally talk all day about her looks and what direction she wants to go in.”

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Critics are comparing Keke’s style choices to those of Rihanna. Considering that Maikeeb was once an intern for Mel Ottenberg, we asked if Rihanna has the played a part in his styling style. He says, “I wouldn’t say Rihanna has influenced my style. I definitely love Mel Ottenberg’s work and Rihanna’s as well. But I don’t believe that every actress or pop star in the industry that wears high fashion street wear or Vetements is trying to be Rihanna. I think they simply just like that style.”

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Michael describes his personal style as high fashion street wear, “Mixing high and low is what I love doing, I love owning pieces of clothing that are hard to find and are exclusively sold at certain places. Exclusive pieces make me admire my clothes even more. I love Demna Gvasalia’s work with Vetements and Balenciaga. If I could own every piece of the Vetements or Balenciaga collections, I would!” Michael also loves 1990’s early 2000’s Margiela, Thierry Mugler, and Versace. He says, “Pieces that make a statement are my thing.”

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Michael offers this advice for aspiring stylists, “Start interning for a big name stylist. Intern until you can’t intern anymore, that’s how you learn the most. In this industry it’s very cut throat, people will treat you like you are nothing. They’ll tell you not to speak to anyone on set or not to introduce yourself and you just have to take it and roll with it. You have to know that if you keep working you’ll become bigger than those people who told you not to speak or introduce yourself.”

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Michael says that confidence is key, “Always believe in yourself no matter what you do, no matter how anyone treats you or looks down upon you. When I started out in this industry I was told that I was just an intern and that was all I was going to be, I started to believe it myself. Then, I really looked at myself and told myself that I am bigger than this and that I was going to make it one day no matter what. If you truly believe in yourself you can surpass anyone’s expectations of you.”

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We love to hear stories about how people put in all of the work required to be where they are suppose to be in life. Michael is a true testament that one must never stop, even when the odds are against them! For more on Michael ‘Maikeeb Kills’ Benyamin, check out his Instagram, @maikeeb_kills.

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