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Star stylist Adam Ballheim tells The Hollywood Reporter he’s enjoyed the sartorial journey he’s taken with Machine Gun Kelly since taking the musician on as a client in 2020. “We started working together right before the pandemic hit, and he’s come into his own in so many ways during that time,” Ballheim says. “Professionally, personally, stylistically, it’s been a really exciting time for him. And lately it feels like he’s expressing who he is truly more openly to the public.”
Houston-born Colson Baker, who’s also known by the nickname Kells, indeed is a sought-after presence on red carpets, eager to shake up style norms in forward-thinking looks — like the purple Dolce & Gabbana suit, embellished all over with lengthy spikes, that he wore to November’s American Music Awards. But for Sunday’s 2023 Grammys, the conversation about style took on additional layers, as the musician is nominated for best rock album for 2022’s Mainstream Sellout.
“This is the first Grammy nomination for Kells, so we wanted to make it feel really special,” Ballheim explains. “This moment was very much something he had moving around in his brain. We wanted to make sure he looked like a rock artist, but also a bit punk, while also making sure the look felt respectful to the Grammys and this moment in his career, and ultimately feeling elevated and cool.”
For the 2023 Grammys, Ballheim and Baker once again turned to Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana to create Sunday’s custom look, a double-breasted suit crafted of a fabric that resembles silver foil, accented with a crystal harness. “It’s super reflective with a bit of a brocade pattern stitched in,” Ballheim says. “There’s no lapel, so it’s a deep-V worn with no shirt, and then this beautiful crystal harness is worn on top. It’s really beautiful and glam but still feels punk rock.”
“Like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” Baker added on the red carpet.
The suit jacket also features a subtle peplum detail — “a flair at the waist that feels a little surreal and a little playful,” Ballheim says — while the trousers are super skinny, a silhouette the musician prefers. “With that stiff, foil-like fabric, the pants basically stand up on their own,” Ballheim adds with a laugh.
Also at the Grammys, MGK’s fiancee Megan Fox, who works with stylist Maeve Reilly, is wearing a beaded white gown by Zuhair Murad with jewels by Lorraine Schwartz. Ballheim says the teams for the two stars often communicate to ensure the duo’s looks feel cohesive on the carpet. “Every event is a little bit different,” Ballheim notes. “Sometimes we riff off of her options and vice versa. This is a huge night for Kells with his first nomination, and Megan is so supportive of that, so she’ll look amazing while also letting him have his moment.”
Reilly agrees. “When Adam shared the sketch of MGK’s look I immediately thought of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet,” she posted on Instagram. “I wanted to find a simple classic white gown for Megan but still something that felt like her with a bit of an edge. I knew this was the dress the second I saw it and begged [Murad’s team] to ship it in from Paris for me. It was exactly what she wanted and was the only thing she tried on. Tonight was his night so we really wanted to keep her look simple and classic so he could shine!”
Pointing to the packed Grammys weekend schedule, Ballheim says the fitting for the Grammys took place on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 4, after Baker and Fox’s appearance at the Roc Nation brunch and before Saturday night’s Clive Davis Grammys pre-party. “We fit his suit for the Clive Davis party at the same time we fit his Grammys suit, so yesterday was a bit hectic,” Ballheim says “I could tell he was a little tired coming from the Roc Nation event, but when he put on the silver suit, he kind of lit up and that’s when I knew he really liked it. I could see him envisioning that moment on the Grammys red carpet.” Baker’s silver shoes are also by Dolce & Gabbana.
The look is completed with earrings by Stephen Webster and rings by London-based jeweler The Great Frog. Jewelry is typically a last-minute decision, Ballheim adds. “The harness finishes with a choker around the neck, so we’re looking at rings and earrings,” he says. “Kells loves jewelry, but our boy also likes to change his mind, so that’s always the final element discussed before he walks out the door.”
Ultimately Ballheim calls Baker “the best kind of client. He’s super adventurous, but he’s not doing it to cause a scene. His style is a reflection of his personality and his music. It’s very organic and never forced, and you feel that from the ease he exudes when he steps onto a carpet.”
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