There is a new era of fashion that has emerged in recent years. Reality stars are now models, squiggly eyebrows are a thing, and mugshots are serving as headshots for modeling agencies. Social media has added the newest term Prison Bae to the ever-growing hashtag repertoire. In 2014, #prisonbae caught fire when a mugshot image of Jeremy Meeks went viral on Facebook. The smoldering, blue-eyed “hot felon’, another nickname he inherited, set comment sections ablaze with many people shocked that America’s prison system housed such striking features in their cells. The 27 month sentence, on weapons and gang charges, he served only seemed to heighten interest in him. He signed a modeling contract with White Cross Management, and signed with an agent, all while in prison.
Meeks debuted for Philipp Plein in September 2016 during New York fashion Week. With the who’s who of the fashion and entertainment world filling up the front row, all eyes were on him. Following an impressive runway debut, Meeks has become the face of Philipp Plein appearing in the Fall-Winter 17/18 campaign. A few stints in jail and a tumultous upbringing has left Jeremy Meeks grateful for the turnaround in his life. Modeling isn’t the only industry he has his eye on- film and music are up next for him. But it isn’t just industry peers who are admiring Meeks. Chloe Green, heiress to the TopShop empire is said to be dating the model.
Prison Bae 2
Following closely in his footsteps is twenty year old, Mekhi Alante Lucky, or better known as Prison Bae 2. The North Carolina native and his growing police record, a record that caused the infamous mugshot, is being embraced by the industry for his chiseled bone structure and his heterochromatic eyes. Social media went crazy over his looks much in the same way they reacted to Jeremy Meeks. Some even called for an earlier release of Lucky so he could begin his modeling career. St. Claire’s Modeling Agency recently signed their newest model, booking and aligning him with a few famous fashion photographers to enhance his portfolio.
The rise of the industry’s two newest models is unexpected, especially for Jeremy Meeks. His ascend into the modeling world is reminiscent of a Jackie Collins novel- a rags to riches story of an ex con, turned model, turned heiress boy toy traveling the world over, walking down runways and being embraced by the glitterati. The same can be said for Mekhi Lucky who is already mimicking his predecessor. Both men bring a rugged edginess to a finally-diversifying industry.
Considering the past prejudices of fashion, it is a shock to see how embraced they are by designers and celebrities. It’s also good that they are allowed to rewrite their stories, their past isn’t looked upon as a hindrance to their future. The success of both Jeremy Meeks and Mekhi Lucky, plagues the question of whether or not we will see any female ex-felons getting the same treatment. There have been more than a few female “prison baes” but aside from an increase in Instagram followers, nothing has come of their mugshots.