A model staged a protest at Gucci’s Milan Fashion Week show, after models were dressed in ‘straitjacket’ and sent down a conveyor belt runway.
Ayesha Tan Jones appeared in the show on Sunday night, but wrote the words “mental health is not fashion” on the palms of their hands – which they held up while on the runway.
Jones later posted a video of the protest on Instagram, along with a statement saying: “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, is hurtful and insensitive for a major fashion house such as Gucci to use this imagery as a concept for a fleeting fashion moment.”
Jones added: “It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of straight jackets [sic] and outfits alluding to mental patients, while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat.
“Presenting these struggles as props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues.”
Gucci is no stranger to controversy; the fashion house apologised and withdrew a woollen jumper after a “blackface” row in February and was criticised for cultural appropriation after using turbans in a show last year.
Jones’s protest comes after Burberry faced similar criticism from a model for creating a hoodie with a ‘noose’ hanging from its neck as part of its Autumn/Winter 2019 London Fashion Week show.
Liz Kennedy, who appeared in the Burberry show, said her family has been impacted by suicide and seeing the jumper during her fitting left her feeling “extremely triggered”. “Suicide is not fashion,” she wrote on Instagram at the time, next to a photo of the jumper. Burberry has since apologised.
Following Jones’s protest, Gucci shared a photo from the show on Instagram, explaining why designers chose to run the straitjacket-inspired section.
In a statement given to HuffPost UK, a spokesperson from Gucci added: “The show presented how society today can have the ability to confine individuality and how Gucci can be the antidote. It was a journey from conformity to freedom and creativity.
“Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, such as straitjackets, were included on the catwalk as the most extreme version of restriction imposed by society and those who control it. The white outfits were a statement for the fashion show and part of a performance, in the sense of setting the context for what followed.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: email@example.com
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org