Mikiel Benyamin masterfully balances his many responsibilities. The 22-year-old juggles celebrity clients with ease, while keeping his it-girls on the fashionable up-and-up and cultivating his own brand. He also strikes a balance with his personal choices, adding glamour to streetwear’s traditional edgy aesthetic.
Although the Egypt native is best known for his work with Keke Palmer, who he’s been working with since last year, 2017 brought Benyamin together with Instagram star and rapper Cardi B after he was asked by her manager to style the cover of Cardi’s newest album Gangsta Bitch Volume 2. Since then, Benyamin has been spotlighting Cardi’s fashion sense with bright colors, bold cuts, and lots of fur. Benyamin talks to Billboard about working with Cardi, his proudest style moment and preparing to turn more heads in 2017.
What do you think attracted Cardi to your style?
I brought high fashion, glamour, fur jackets, and things that are very daring, but at the same time very Cardi.
How is it working for Cardi?
Cardi and I work really well together. It’s really crazy. When we start working together, she’ll come up with a project that she needs to be dressed for, and we go back and forth looking at looks and look books. She’s very involved with her looks and wants to look a certain way all the time. She has in her mind what she wants, so it’s my job to go out and find it and bring it to her. It’s very easy — it’s like working with a best friend. She’s so sweet.
What’s your favorite part of styling Cardi?
We can go out to a club, and have a lot of fun together. She’s a very, very fun person. She’s super energetic. I’m very energetic and positive, so I think it works out really well.
Describe her style in three words.
Bad, bougie and gangsta.
What’s your proudest style moment with Cardi?
I really love the white fur moment that we just did recently. I think that was so gorg, and the fact that she had a ponytail with it — I was like ‘Ooo!’
What’re you most excited for in 2017?
I’m very excited for more of our look and for the world to see what we’re going to do next. I’m excited for more fur, more Gucci, more slip dresses, very eccentric-looking things. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s reactions.
What is the best way to balance high fashion with street style?
I think if you add a fur jacket to a street style outfit, that would make it more glamorous. You can also add a heel or open-toe, or you can add a ton of accessories. You can add gold jewelry. I’m really in love with statement pieces in jewelry.
What’s the most underrated accessory?
Bracelets. Right now in fashion, there’s this trend where people wear tons of rings and a necklace or a choker, but not much bracelets. I think some outfits need bracelets for sure because your hand can be kind of bare.
The most overrated accessory?
I don’t like big backpacks. I think [mini backpacks] are so gorgeous, like the red Louis Vuitton mini that just came out. That’s the perfect accessory.
Are there any up-and-coming designers we should be looking out for?
A personal favorite of mine is Weslah [Wesley Berryman] and he is extremely talented. His work is so fun and so different. I’ve never seen anything like his work before. Every season he reinvents himself and brings something in fresh and new, so I think the world should watch out for him. He’s going to take over this fashion industry within the next year or two.
Bryan Hearns is a great friend of mine, as well as Weslah, and I love his work. He can really make anything which is really crazy because his collection is consistently dresses and jackets and bombers and two pieces, but let’s say a popstar was going out for an event and she wanted him to create a gown, he would make a full gown from scratch. I think he’s very diverse, which you don’t see a lot of in this industry.
Describe your perfect model.
I’ve always loved very strong women and feminists in this industry. I love someone who’s not afraid to take fashion risks and who’s not afraid to make the headlines every morning just for their fashion. I love a woman who likes to be risqué, but also very classic and very confident.