ET Canada caught up with Adam Ballheim, the mastermind behind Machine Gun Kelly’s pop-punk style.

From the tip of his tongue to the tips of his nails – Machine Gun Kelly is quickly becoming fashion’s newest trendsetter.

The rapper *slash* actor *slash* pop-punk musician can now add fashion icon to the resume. And if anyone in the fashion industry was on the fence about crowning the entertainer a “fashion icon” title – Milan Fashion Week seems to have brought them onto team MGK.

That’s right, a week after making headlines with his engagement to Megan Fox, Machine Gun Kelly got everyone talking after taking over the Dolce & Gabbana runway.

And according to the stylist behind Machine Gun Kelly’s best looks – Adam Ballheim – it was also a match made in heaven.

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“It’s really rewarding because that’s something ‘Kells’ and I and his whole team… we’ve sort of been working towards collaborating and partnering with a really high and storied fashion house,” Ballheim told ET Canada.

Machine Gun Kelly walks the runway during the Dolce & Gabbana Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 fashion show. Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Machine Gun Kelly walks the runway during the Dolce & Gabbana Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 fashion show. Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

“It’s not like he just walked the catwalk, he performed during the show. He didn’t just perform during the show, he did the music for the entire show. So it was like a really collaborative, immersive Machine Gun Kelly Dolce & Gabbana experience and being a part of something that’s that special, that magical, that unique is certainly really rewarding.”

With influences tied to U.K. punk subculture, and rock and roll archives – Adam and Machine Gun Kelly are creating a lot of magic themselves. And with music that refuses to fit in any specific genre, it seems fitting that his fashion is just as boundary bending.

Machine Gun Kelly poses backstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp
Machine Gun Kelly poses backstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp

“It’s really nice, as a stylist to work with clients that have a very strong sense of themselves and have a very strong sense of their own style. And Kells has both of those,” he revealed “Whether, you know, it’s wearing pink, pearls, nail polish, painting his tongue black… It’s definitely punk. It’s definitely fun. But at the end of the day, he’s all of those things.”

“He’s immersed in music, he’s immersed in fashion, he’s immersed in art, he’s immersed in cinema. So sometimes it is as literal as looking at Sex Pistols or really old school archives of Vivienne Westwood to see what they were doing. But, you know, sometimes we’re referencing Edward Scissorhands, sometimes we’re referencing a Tim Walker fashion portrait that we love from the 90s.”

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Ballheim added, “The most important thing is just letting Machine Gun Kelly be Machine Gun Kelly.”

As for his favourite look that embodied all things Machine Gun Kelly?

“The one that always sticks out to me is VMAs 2020,” Ballheim shared.

Machine Gun Kelly attends the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: Rich Fury/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images for MTV
Machine Gun Kelly attends the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: Rich Fury/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images for MTV

“Kells wore this pink Berluti sleeveless turtleneck with matching pants and pearls and a jacket thrown over his shoulder. And I think it just signalled the arrival of this new era of Machine Gun Kelly as a punk icon and a fashion icon.”

A new era that seems to be taking more and more men under its wing. With the resurgence of pop-punk culture, and 80’s influences continuing their runway takeovers, the future of men’s fashion is looking brighter than ever (literally).

“There is going to be less structure as far as what defines men’s fashion and what’s masculine, what men can get away with…That goes back to what we’re doing with Machine Gun Kelly!” he said.

“You can wear pink, you can wear pearls, you can paint your nails even if you’re a straight dude. I think it’s just less rules, less structure.”

As for Ballheim’s biggest tip?

“Don’t be afraid. Play with colour. Take risks. Play with weird silhouettes. Play with gender bending. Like just play around. Fashion is fun. It should be fun. Expressing yourself should be fun.”