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How Machine Gun Kelly got his style

Words by Rob Chilton

Punk rapper Machine Gun Kelly reveals how a chance meeting in a New York nightclub led to a fruitful style partnership with designer John Varvatos

Through the grungy gloom of the legendary New York City club CBGB, fashion designer John Varvatos spotted Machine Gun Kelly in one of his suits and had a lightbulb moment.

“We were two rock-n-rollers in the same spot at the same time,” explains Kelly. “I was wearing a John Varvatos suit with a scarf and no shirt. I think he saw me and was like, ‘This dude’s cool’.”

Machine Gun Kelly and John Varvatos

They got chatting and formed a friendship, which led to Kelly modelling for Varvatos on the runway in February 2017. Now, as seen here in a shoot that took place in the Dubai desert when Kelly was in town to help open the John Varvatos store in The Dubai Mall earlier this year, the rapper is the face of the SS19 collection. “I don’t want people to think I’m putting on these clothes to try and be cool, to fit in, or try and be seen,” says Kelly.

Leather jackets are a Kelly staple

Ahead of his latest album release, Hotel Diablo, Kelly is currently on tour, playing more than 50 shows in the US, Europe and Asia throughout the summer and into September. “I was always a hardcore kid growing up,” he says. “I hope I’m making a bridge somehow between hip-hop and punk in myself and I hope I’m on the forefront of the two eventually merging.”

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