‘Styling is a part of who I am’: Neko ‘Bootlegrocstar’ Kelly

Jamaican stylist, Neko ‘Bootlegrocstar’ Kelly

Jamaican stylist, Neko ‘Bootlegrocstar’ Kelly achieved a major milestone in his career after he was featured in Teen Vogue as one of the top contestants in the Vogue Challenge.

The challenge went viral on social media recently and saw black fashion photographers, models, designers, stylists and make-up artists showcase their take on the cover of the iconic magazine. This was in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and sought to highlight how black creatives were often overlooked in the fashion industry.

One of Kelly’s covers for Vogue magazine

Kelly very graciously told BUZZ that he was just happy to be a part of the conversation.

“The feature is extremely flattering. I am thrilled to have my work as part of the conversation about inclusion of black creatives and the Black Lives Matter movement,” he said.

‘Flower Child’, styled by Kelly and entered in the Vogue Challenge

The 26-year-old believes his path as a stylist was laid out for him and he just dutifully embraced it.

“As long as I can remember, styling has always been a part of who I am. As a child I told everyone what to wear. It peaked when I started watching America’s Next Top Model and that confirmed everything I already knew —I am going to be a fashion stylist,” he said.

Styling is apart of who he is (Photo: @ bootlegrocstar)

So far, in his five years on this journey, he has styled celebrities like Keke Palmer, Shenseea, Afro B, Protoje, Jada Kingdom, Stalk Ashley, I Octane, Konshens, Masicka, Govanna, Nadine Sutherland, Tanya Stephens, and Ding Dong.

“I approach styling mentally. I get in their heads before their closets.”

— Kelly

Explaining that styling is as much mental as it is physical, Kelly said his approach is to get in the heads of his clients.

“I get in their heads before their closets. I want to know what makes you feel powerful and empowered, what you don’t like, what you want to experiment with and, most importantly, what do you want the world to know when they see you. When I’ve established that, then what I should style you in comes easily,” he said.

And while he’s very appreciative of the Vogue feature, he believes it is just the beginning of what’s to come.

What’s next for Kelly?

“My aim is to always have my work reach new heights and have it create opportunities to help me push my career forward. I’ll be putting out top-notch work that pushes the boundaries and hopefully I’ll gain greater platforms and opportunities,” he shared.