Model Protests Gucci’s Insensitive Fashion Show On Mental Illness
We totally get that fashion is subjective and ever-changing. With that, it’s a need for fashion brands to continuously evolve their art. But that sometimes, fashion labels cross these boundaries. That’s exactly what happened to the luxury fashion label, Gucci.
Remember when the Gucci stirred up trouble when the brand got a backlash in February for its blackface clothing and once again in May for selling Sikh turbans online for $790. This time, the Italian brand messed up big time by showcasing clothing that disregards people with mental health issues during Milan Fashion Week.
Model Ayesha tan-Jones made headlines after walking the runway with “Mental health is not fashion” written on her palm. This was over the protest of Gucci using straitjacket and uniform inspired looks down its spring/summer 2020 collection.
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Mental Health is Not Fashion. May this message not get lost in the algorithms or become yesterday’s news now that fashion month has come to an end. Whether you agree that the image of straitjackets is okay or not to use in popular culture or on runways, mental health is an important issue that deserves international awareness if we are gonna collectively work to de-stigmatise mental health conditions 💚 I did what I felt right and best 2do with the information I had at the time, with my capabilities and my privilege, and I do not doubt my actions 💚 A lil reminder that there is a google doc with mental health charities and resources in my bio, which will be continually updated! There are so many amazing ppl doing incredible work all around the world to support people with mental illness, thank you to the many MH professionals who have got in touch with me this past week 💚 if you have the resources to donate, please do, or share their information on ur socials, just as this image of the “Gucci model Protests Runway” has been shared countless times. The Gucci model is just a vessel, for a message, a message which is way more important than any clothes, clout or clickbait counts 💚 I understand I now have a larger platform, which is amazing because I am able to keep using this space to raise awareness of the issues I care about, the things/ppl that inspire me and my art; and the healing magic that I want to share with the world 💚 if u gonna hate on it, don’t follow x🦋 thank u to the wonderful artists who made these renderings of the action 🎨 @onepaintingoftheparadise @gianfrancosetzu @rubycohenlove @daria_kuznetsova_ 💚
On her Instagram, Ayesha made a full statement regarding the stigma of mental health and illness. She said, “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.”
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Hello ✨ I just want to say Thank You for all the support so many of you have given me since I lifted my hands in peaceful protest on the Gucci Runway show yesterday 💖 I feel very blessed to be surrounded by supportive comrades, and to know that there are so many people sharing support online for this action ✊🏽 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. 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 ! ☀️ The support people have shown to my act is more than I could imagine, so I only trust that we will share this same support to our friends, siblings, loved ones, acquaintances, internet friends or even strangers, who might be going through tough times with their Mental Health. Showing up for them may come in many forms, check in via text or DM, listen to them with patience and without judgement, offer a helping hand with household tasks like food shop, cooking or cleaning, regularly remind them how amazing and strong they are, but also that is okay feel the feels too, Lets show up for people with mental health and help end the stigma together !🌻 Many of the other Gucci models who were in the show felt just as strongly as I did about this depiction of straightjackets, and without their support I would not have had the courage to walk out and peacefully protest. Some have chosen to donate a portion their fee, and I 100% of mine, to mental health charities, who are doing amazing work for people today! Below are tags to some amazing charities that I encourage, if you have the resources and capacity to, please donate in any way you can, and in my linktree ( in bio ) is a google doc to websites for more charities ! <3 Also, please comment any other Mental Health organisations globally you would like to support and share, as my resources are UK/US based currently 💫 blessings, love & rage – Ayesha / YaYa 🌈 ✨ ✨ ✨ @projectlets @mindcharity @mermaidsgender @qtpocmentalhealth @stonewalluk @switchboardlgbt @lgbtswitchboard @papyrus_uk
Of course, this is most unlikely the brand’s direct intention but it was definitely perceived wrongly by society and even the models.
Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele told the New York Times, “For me, the show was the journey from conformity to freedom and creativity.”
“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.” He added that Ayesha was free to protest the looks.
Thankfully, the Gucci pieces will not be sold online. Here’s to hoping that brands do better with sensitive issues like mental health in the future.