- A model walking in the Gucci spring/summer 2020 runway show named Ayesha Tan-Jones protested the brand’s use of straitjacket-inspired runway looks.
- In the model’s words, ‘Mental health is not fashion.’
Does Gucci ever learn from their previous mistakes? First, the brand and its creative director, Alessandro Michele, received significant backlash in February after selling blackface clothing. Then, shortly after, the brand came under fire again in May for selling Sikh turbans online for R11 800. And now, the brand has messed up again—this time, by showcasing clothing that seriously disregards people with mental health issues.
During Milan Fashion Week, Gucci sent straitjacket and uniform-inspired looks down the runway for its spring/summer 2020 collection. And while this likely was not the brand’s direct intention, it came off kind of callous to the point where a Gucci model named Ayesha Tan-Jones made a statement against the looks while walking the runway.
Before coming down the catwalk, Tan-Jones wrote, ‘Mental health is not fashion’ on their palms, and held their palms up for the show attendees to see as they came down the runway. Honestly, it was truly a badass moment of silent protest:
After the show, Ayesha took to Instagram to make a full statement regarding the moment, and said that the stigma surrounding mental health and illness (especially towards PoC and LGBTQIA+ communities) needs to end. ‘I believe, as many fellow models do, that the stigma around mental health must end,’ they wrote. ‘As an artist and model who has experienced my own struggles with mental health, as well as family members and loved ones who have been affected by depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenia, it is hurtful and insensitive for a major fashion house such as Gucci to use this imagery as a concept for a fleeting fashion moment.’
After Sunday’s show, Alessandro Michele made a statement pertaining to the fashion faux-pas and said that the straitjacket-inspired looks were really just a very extreme version of a uniform. ‘For me, the show was the journey from conformity to freedom and creativity,’ Alessandro told The New York Times. ‘Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, such straitjackets, were included in the fashion show as the most extreme version of restriction imposed by society and those who control it. These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and part of a performance.’
Given the nature of the show, Alessandro added that Ayesha was free to protest the looks. Thankfully, these Gucci pieces will not be sold online, but we can only hope that the brand does better with sensitive issues like mental health in the future.
This post originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com
Feature image: @ayeshatanjones