Speaking with 'Essence,' the new mom also shares how partnering with designer Sergio Hudson brought her 'back to the world.'
Keke Palmer is opening up about her motherhood journey after welcoming her first child, Leodis, with her ex-boyfriend, Darius Jackson, and how it's impacted her style as she ushers in a new fashion era with her creative director, Sergio Hudson.
In a new interview for Essence, "The Modern Muse" duo -- who grace the cover of the magazine's September/October Black Fashion Issue -- discuss how Palmer finding herself again after Leodis' birth goes hand-in-hand with their partnership.
The pair came together for this year's Met Gala after Palmer wore one of Hudson's designs as a correspondent two years before. Palmer was resplendent and radiant at the star-studded 2023 Met Gala -- which celebrated the full work and life of the late designer Karl Lagerfeld -- in a custom Sergio Hudson gown, which sparkled and glimmered as it was adorned with pearls and over 12,000 Swarovski crystals.
The 29-year-old shares that she knew she was in good hands from the start of the process, which was right after giving birth. Taking note of how Hudson's designs are made to fit a woman's body, Palmer explains how the designer became vital for her during a time when she was coming to terms with her changing body.
"If you look at his designs, they're all about accentuating a woman's body in the best way," she says of Hudson, who has designed for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Tiffany Haddish, Michelle Obama and more. "The cut of the dress, the cut of the jackets. The grosgrain in the dresses. Like, it's all meant to accentuate your body, to accentuate the waist and the breast line and the area underneath. All the cuts he makes are for a woman to feel good about her body."
"Sergio being beside me made the whole thing that much better because he was acting like my mom, Sharon," Palmer adds. "He was like, 'Get out there and talk to these people. You need to work the room. These people need to see how good you look.'"
The Emmy winner praises Hudson for "breathing so much life into me" when she needed it most. "I feel like he brought me back to the world, honey. He really did."
On his end, Hudson shares that the "designer-muse" is one of reciprocity. "I think the designer-muse relationship is like give and take," he tells Essence. "Until now, the only muse I ever had a relationship with was my mom. But when Keke and I first met, immediately there was this click," he said, adding, "She inspires me. Her talent is limitless."
"She pours into me, and then I pour into her and onto her," Hudson adds. "I see a vision of who she is and where she should be, style-wise. I feel like my relationship with Keke is a gift. It rejuvenated me. It was like, Okay, this is what you need to be doing. This is where you need to be going. Keke got me excited about fashion again."
Palmer also explains how her postpartum experience with Hudson helped her find herself again, sharing, "The relationship I had with my son during that process empowered me to get back up and do things for myself again. In the midst of trying to work out and do things that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do -- like going to the Met Gala -- I was able to say, 'You know what, I'm gonna get out there and experience everything again, and I'm still gonna be there for my boy.'"
The new mom, who reveals that she was also dealing with a tough breastfeeding journey, adds that the trials only made her stronger.
"That kind of resolve built so much confidence and so much strength in me," she says. "I just got this overwhelming sense that I can do anything. There were so many things I was always trying to change before. But now, my being enough for my son has let me know that I'm enough in the world."
And although Palmer admits there was some pressure when it came to "snapping back" after giving birth to Leodis, she says that attitude is in the past. "What'll I tell you is this, even with that pressure I felt of snapping back, I feel less self-conscious than I did beforehand. And I think it's very indicative of the people that I have around me, the support system that I have from my trainer Corey Calliet to Sergio," she shares.
"No one said you need to be who you was before. They all kept saying, 'Who you are now is giving down!' And that really made me feel like, 'Yeah, let me get into this new me,'" the actress adds. "And I think that's what all moms deserve. Keep eating these b**ches up!"