More than two years ago, MPr3ssion Modeling Agency was established to serve as a catalyst for Black men to excel in and beyond the St. Louis fashion space. 

From red carpet events to luxury-focused print inserts, the male modeling agency continues to expand its fashion breadth by shining a light on Black men in the arts with its newly released project dubbed ‘The Year of the Melanated King’. 

Model: Javaughn Designer: The Only Lifestyle Photographer Tikaboo Infinite Styles Wardrobe Curator: Terrill Keith

The four-part series celebrates and highlights Black men in fashion and was curated by M.L. Hunt, a fashion enthusiast and founder and CEO of MPr3ssion Modeling Agency.

“Women are regularly celebrated and commended for their style and fashion, but when it comes to men, especially Black male designers, they don’t always receive the same praise,” Hunt exclaimed when defining the purpose of the project.“This series will feature various Black male designers who deserve applause for their fashion sense and are making their own statements in the community they serve and represent.” 

To start, Hunt coordinated an agency shoot in December to catapult the project after an idea came on short notice. 

Designer: Jean-Jacques/Designer: The Label/Photographer: Tikaboo Infinite Visuals/Wardrobe Curator: Terrill Keith

“It started off as a personal branding project, but then grew to include the MPr3ssion models and then Black male designers in St. Louis and East St. Louis,” said Hunt. “Within two days before the photoshoot, I was able to get more than seven designers to commit.They were excited and even overnighted materials to be featured.” 

The first phase of the series will focus on introducing the brands and reintroducing the MPr3ssion models as Hunt states that the business was halted as a safety precaution due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With the help of the agency’s creative curator and director,Terrell Keith, and Infinite Visuals photographer, TikaBoo, Hunt plans to work with the brand designers throughout the year to highlight a series of visuals that will help bring Black male creatives to the forefront of the St. Louis fashion scene.

Model: Terry/ Designer: Legally Trappin/ Photographer: Tikaboo Infinite Visuals/ Wardrobe Curator: Terrill Keith

Of those brands, some include urban streetwear designs from Legally Trappin and SmooveLife Brand, statement pieces from Andy Burns Co., WeJustLivin, and The Label, and graphic impressions from N3VRMND The Brand and Pure Dopeness. Other brands to be featured include Real People Clothing and The Only Lifestyle

Each featured clothing piece is delicately placed on an MPr3ssion model and positioned to reflect the Black man’s impact on style and culture. 

“We think of this project as being transformational,” said Hunt. “An opportunity to give these designers that extra push in their careers and in­crease the sus­tain­abil­ity of these businesses that support Black art while expanding com­mu­nity aware­ness.” 

Model: Shunn Designer: Pure Dopeness The Brand Photographer Tikaboo Infinite Visuals Wardrobe Curator Terrill Keith

The COVID-19 economic downturn has been particularly devastating for the arts and culture sector. Some of the most moving experiences often involve being in crowded spaces, such as fashion shows and events. 

“When most of the world is vaccinated and they open us back up and it’s safe, my goal is to pull those designers with us to New York Fashion Week in the fall,” Hunt expressed. “I’m trying to get these guys to Milan, Italy, and to really get into these spaces to grow their career. Fashion can be that introduction.” 

Hunt is a strong believer that what you wear and how you present yourself to others can make the biggest impact on one’s life. By opening the door of opportunity, he wants to address the negative stereotypes of Black men deflected by clothing. 

Model Brando/Designer Andy Burns Collection/Photographer Tikaboo Infinite Visuals/Wardrobe Curator Terrill Keith

“You are a walking billboard,” said Hunt. “People pick up on that, and it will either lead to success or failure. Fashion is a key piece to opening a lot of doors, and I’m using those doors that have opened for me, to teach others to walk in their excellence.” 

Hunt further explained that the series will continue to expand to include more brands, designers and other opportunities to elevate Black excellence. 

Tiffany Byndom