Keke Palmer is having a huge year. She got her very own talk show, will soon star in Broadway’s Cinderella and she now has hit a true A-list milestone: She’s having a gown designed just for her to wear on the Emmys red carpet Monday night. Designer Rubin Singer sketched three beautiful gowns (see the sketches below) for Palmer to consider, then invited her to his studio to try them on and make the big decision. Check out the photos, below, then come back tonight for her big red carpet reveal — she’ll be wearing a gown that “makes me feel so glamorous,” she tells PEOPLE.
Palmer and Singer met for 20 minutes before getting down to business, trying on gowns that checked all her boxes for an Emmys dress. “I want it to be classic with a modern edge,” she says. “It is the Emmys so you want to be respectful, but I also want to show my playful side, so hopefully we have found just the right balance.”
And as you can imagine, the two had a blast playing with beautiful gowns. “I had a ball throughout, I loved trying on all those beautiful gowns and Rubin is so sweet. His whole vibe is great,” Palmer says. Echoes Singer, “Playing dress up with Keke was the most fun! She has such a wonderful, bubbly personality. Having not met before, we hit it off right away!”
Palmer is only 20, which means she’s still finding her fashion footing (with a little help from stylists Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald). “I do not have three words that describe my personal style because I feel like I am still evolving and learning more about fashion every day,” she says when asked how to summarize her look. “As for my Emmys dress, it is sultry, refined and elegant. To me those words fit the best!”
That’s not to say she didn’t have a tough choice between three gowns, which all “made me want to dance and move! They are elegant yet comfortable, which is a great combination that all woman love,” Palmer says. Singer loved them all too, but agreed with the final choice. “The dress I liked the best was the dress that Keke picked. It looked simply amazing on her. Collectively, we all knew it was the one,” says Singer. “[Finding the right dress] was a group effort. I designed the dresses and gave suggestions on fit, the stylists selected and presented the grouping of their favorite dresses and Keke made her choice. It was so easy working with Keke and her wonderful team.”
And until they finally decided on the gown (which isn’t pictured — the big reveal will come tonight on the red carpet!) Palmer got dissenting opinions from her stylists until she made her case: “Most of the time we agree, but for the Emmys dress we did not. So I stated my case as to why I loved this one particular dress and they said I was so passionate about it that I made them change their minds!”
While the finishing touches get put on the gown, Palmer remains cool and collected. “I can honestly say, No, I am not nervous. I have such a great team of people around me constantly making sure I have what I need,” she tells PEOPLE, adding with a laugh, “Of course, there is always the possibility of dress malfunctions. Once I was on a red carpet and the strap to my dress broke. That was crazy, but there are no straps on this dress so I should be good!”
That same laid-back policy applies to her day-of beauty prep team, whom she’s charging with making her look “as natural-looking as possible” with “fresh and clean” makeup and a “sleek and complementary” hairstyle. But you can count on her nails being funky: “I’m really into nail art so I have to do something cool with them,” she says. “Other than that, I am so blessed to have such a great hair and makeup team I just sit back and let them do their thing!”
See any gowns you love? Any guesses about the final look?