Model protests Gucci's use of straitjackets while on the runway: 'Mental health is not fashion'
© Getty Images

A model walking in a Gucci show staged a silent protest over the fashion house’s use of straitjackets “alluding to mental patients.”

Ayesha Tan-Jones, a 26-year-old nonbinary model and musician, was participating in Sunday’s show for Milan Fashion Week when they held up their hands to display a handwritten message: “Mental health is not fashion.”

 “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,” Tan-Jones wrote in an Instagram post.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of straight jackets and outfits alluding to mental patients while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat,” the model added.

View this post on Instagram

Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, normative dress, including straitjackets, were included in the #GucciSS20 fashion show as the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it. These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold. @alessandro_michele designed these blank-styled clothes to represent how through fashion, power is exercised over life, to eliminate self-expression. This power prescribes social norms, classifying and curbing identity. The Creative Director’s antidote is seen in the Gucci Spring Summer 2020 lineup of 89 looks, he has designed a collection that conveys fashion as a way to allow people to walk through fields of possibilities, cultivate beauty, make diversity sacrosanct and celebrate the self in expression and identity. #AlessandroMichele

A post shared by Gucci (@gucci) on

Tan-Jones told BuzzFeed News that they decided to protest the night before after another model was “disgusted” by the clothing choice and “walked off the job.”

“For me, I chose to use the platform to highlight the issue,” Tan-Jones said.

Gucci wrote that uniforms and “utilitarian” clothes including straitjackets were included in the fashion show “as the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it.”

The company said the clothes were meant only to make a statement on the runway and will not be sold to the public.

The models appeared in all-white clothing on the moving runway, barefoot and staring straight ahead.

The designs featured straitjackets in a variety of forms, including giant coveralls and smocks covered with lace or buckles,  according to The New York Times.

Designer Alessandro Michele later told the outlet that he wanted to showcase “how society today can have the ability to confine individuality and that Gucci can be the antidote.”

“For me, the show was the journey from conformity to freedom and creativity,” Michele said. “Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, such as 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.” 

Tan-Jones thanked the public for an outpouring of support after the protest and vowed to donate their proceeds from the show to mental health organizations.

“I want to use this opportunity to remind people that this sort of bravery, is only a simple gesture compared to the bravery that people with mental health issues show everyday," the model wrote on Instagram. "To have the bravery to get out of bed, to greet the day, and to live their lives is an act of strength, and I want to thank you for being here and being YOU.”