Model Tyler Flowers

Model Tyler Flowers walking the runway for Pierre McCleary of 1026 Styles on Sunday, Nov. 6 2022 in honor of St. Louis Black Fashion Week.

It is safe to say St. Louis Black fashion last weekend went by the motto “anything goes.” Around 400 fashion lovers and observers came out decked out in sophisticated, eccentric, suave, and fashionista ensembles Sunday evening, Nov. 6, 2022.  

"Today is the day to take the culture to another level," Timothy Moore, SLBFW organizer and creative director, said.

Marking St. Louis Black Fashion Week’s 8th Show in a sensational style for the grand finale, Moore organized a provocative and exciting show highlighting the work of seven of the city’s fashion designers at The Third Degree Glass Factory. Moore has put on the annual show of the Gateway's city's best since 2014.

"It's what the city needed," fashion designer and former model Pierre McCleary of 1026 Styles' said. "We can stand in front of what we believe in and go wherever we choose to go."

From sleek to street the seven designers celebrated were Jahleel Griffin of The Label 17, Maare Rashaad of Unforgettable Fittings, Pierre McCleary of 1026 Styles, Afton Johnson of Young Addy, and Kisha Kandeh of "The Woke Brand.

The audience consisted of people who love all things fashion, all things St. Louis and all things Black, respectively.

"We didn't have a Black Fashion Week, and Saint Louis Fashion Week didn't highlight and showcase designers and models of color too often," Moore said. “Saint Louis Black Fashion Week is more than a show. It's Black excellence; we're dressing to the nines, coming in our best, and presenting ourselves unapologetically."

For McCleary, she describes her experience with St. Louis Black Fashion week as pivotal to her advancement professionally and personally. 

She said she remembers walking the runway for Afton’s brand in 2016 and wearing a hood. As part of her walk, she unveiled her bald head due to alopecia to the community for the first time.

"When I walked out and took the hood off, the crowd received me. I felt the positive energy from everybody, and that was the first time I revealed I had alopecia," said McCleary.

Before first walking the runway, she said she would always wear wigs. McCleary established her craft as a celebrated favorite; the audience cheered on her styles and diverse looks.

She entered the fashion world as a model in 2000 at 35 while raising her two adolescent daughters. Despite insecurities because of her eczema, when she noticed her girls also becoming self-conscious, she thought of introducing them to modeling so they could conquer their insecurities together.

"It helped me understand who I am," said McCleary. "Who cares if I don't have hair? Who cares if someone laughs at me? Who cares if I am different? I am uniquely designed to be me."

McCleary entered the design arena in 2012 when a friend asked her to create pieces for 20 girls for a show when the original show designer dropped out. She fell in love with the craft and slowly switched from primarily walking runway work to designing in 2019.

"I use the fashion platform to introduce Alopecia into the community,” McCleary said.

Inspired by a vision of acceptance, she debuted her first fashion show in 2017, titled 'Hats of Alopecia,' which showcased the full spectrum of Black beauty.

“I wanted to ensure Black, and brown designers and models had a space to have a fly production, great cultural relevance and not have to squeeze into a space that was never designed for them,” Moore said.

Brandy Brown, an attendee, who came out for Johnson, has loyally come to the annual show since 2018. “The unique fashion is just outstanding." 

"God told me to look in the mirror and every day find something you love more about yourself than you did yesterday and to stop covering up my blessing,” McCleary said. “Bless someone authentically with who you are because it can encourage someone to jump over their hurdle."

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