Though fashion is written in the stars for some, it was truly in the cards for stylist Adam Ballheim—who even calls his start as a New York intern “kismet.” Today, he styles numerous stars, including Machine Gun Kelly, Ross Butler and Alex Wolf.
Ballheim’s free-spirited aesthetic can be seen in his own social media mood boards, where nature shots sit by risqué filtered photos. However, these don’t literally translate to looks for his clients, whom Ballheim says are his main inspiration.
“I think it’s important to take cues from your own personal interests and not be so caught up in what other people are doing or wearing,” Ballheim tells FN. “I’m there to facilitate my clients presenting themselves as the best, most rad version of themselves.”
Colson Baker, AKA Machine Gun Kelly, has especially become a fashion fixture under Ballheim. The singer’s style has noticeably grown edgier over time, a change Ballheim noticed when his 2020 album “Tickets to my Downfall” dropped. However, the stylist says the fashion shift was natural, and even has a favorite look since it began: a hot pink Berluti suit from the 2020 VMAs.
“He was on every best dressed list, and it really signaled the arrival of Machine Gun Kelly as a fashion icon,” Ballheim remembers. “It was also a nice reminder that despite the state of the world (we were still in the middle of strict lockdowns here in LA), fashion can and should be a fun outlet and an escape.”
To make Kelly’s punk wardrobe, Ballheim pulls “everything”: menswear, womenswear, streetwear, emerging brands. When it comes to shoes, there are similarly no limits; many include platforms, glitter and metallics. Ballheim sees shoes as essential for “setting the tone” of an outfit, often pulling from Christian Louboutin, Giuseppe Zanotti and Both Paris. However, one style in particular is now Kelly’s go-to shoe.
“If you tied my hands and said he could only wear one brand of shoes for the rest of his life—I would say Dr. Martens,” says Ballheim. “They [are] tried and true. Especially the white Jadon boots—those have really become his signature over the years.”
Ballheim’s looks for Kelly have made their mark, pre-dating the new menswear shift that sees experimentation with color, jewelry and even nail polish. However, the stylist never aims to be trendy.
“The goal, for me, is never to start a trend and the goal is NEVER to follow a trend,” emphasizes Ballheim. “I’m happy to be playing a small part in this cultural moment where the old rules guiding menswear are being thrown out the window. But that’s not the goal. The goal is to let Machine Gun Kelly be Machine Gun Kelly.”
Ballheim’s even brought Kelly’s statements to moments with the singer’s fiancee, Megan Fox. The duo’s coordinating ensembles come from them, Ballheim and Fox’s stylist Maeve Reilly, though their clothes must always reflect individuality.
“There’s never a moment where Kells or Megan are being forced into dressing a certain way in order to match the other,” affirms Ballheim. “Forcing a look is never going to end well or photograph well in the end.”
Discover Machine Gun Kelly’s edgy style over the years in the gallery.