At the L.A. Nope premiere, an occasion which many actresses might use to do their best Old Hollywood impression (evoking past celebrities tricks people into thinking you are a celebrity with longevity), star Keke Palmer wore a white corseted crop top, long black leather gloves and black, low-slung pants. It was very Julia Fox, honestly, and a perfect example of Palmer’s underrated red carpet abilities.
With this weekend’s release of Nope, the latest film from horror-comedy crossover director Jordan Peele, the world will finally be treated to the A-list debut of Palmer. As my colleague Kevin Fallon sketched, Palmer has been a presence in Hollywood since her stint as a child star, going on to build an impressive resumé as an actor, presenter, comedian… and, yes, extremely fabulous dresser.
The edgy Marc Jacobs look “made me feel powerful and effortless at the same time, which is very hard to do. In the end, the entire look, mixed with my braids, really felt futurist yet classic—which I thought was perfect for the Nope premiere,” Palmer explained to Vogue.
In addition to acting, landing her own talk show on BET and becoming the first Black actress to star as Cinderella on Broadway, Palmer can also sing and interview fellow celebrities with charm and bombast.
Clips of Palmer frequently go viral or generate memes because she’s so plainly hilarious: while taking a lie detector test for Vanity Fair in 2019, Palmer was asked to identify Dick Cheney in a photograph. “I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, I don’t know who this man is,” Palmer said, with the air of a dismissive aunt. “I mean, he could be walking down the street…I wouldn’t know a thing. Sorry to this man.”
“After finding out who he is,” Palmer said later, “I’m glad I didn’t know.” That’s her appeal in a nutshell: concise, witty and clearly full of joy. Palmer’s personality is so sparkling, the conversation about how great her outfits are usually takes a backseat, but no longer.
Certain outlets are starting to speak up about her consistently fabulous style: “Palmer makes excellent use of each photo opp,” Vogue wrote this week. “She always brings it.” Harper’s Bazaar, too, shouted her out this week.
When she was fresher to Hollywood and performing at a tender age, Palmer dressed like the quintessential cute little girl dressing up for a big party: bows, flower hair clips, etc. A little later, she released her debut album and aesthetically evoked Beyoncé. How many lives has this girl lived?
She’s a true risk taker: in 2017, she dyed her close-cropped hair purple. “As you can see from my track record…I love finding new versions of myself,” Palmer told Refinery 29. “It makes me feel super inspired. I’m in a place in my life where I realized I don’t have anything stopping me from expressing myself in any facet, and that makes me happy.”
Multitalented Palmer also hosted Vogue’s 2021 Met Gala coverage. Predictably, she killed the assignment with her engaging interviews, but she also looked stunning in a close-fitting, shimmering gray dress and dramatic eye shadow.
Throughout the last few months, as her profile has continued to rise, Palmer has also rocked high-style interpretations of the Perfect Summer Dress archetype: a gold pleated trapeze dress was her choice for a June outing, while on the rest of the Lightyear press tour, she was also spotted in a creamy yellow Miu Miu skirt suit, a white fur-trimmed strapless dress by 16Arlington and a futuristic midi-dress by David Koma.
Her style, clearly, is as colorful and vibrant as her personality, and as infectious as her talent. It won’t be long before she’s named amongst long-established style icons at an extremely high frequency, and if she scores more wins like her neon green Today show outfit from this week, she’ll be well on her way.