Model Ayesha Tan-Jones staged a “peaceful protest” against Gucci’s use of straitjackets during its Milan Fashion Week show on Sunday.
The Italian fashion house’s spring/summer 2020 show opened with a series of models being propelled along a conveyor belt catwalk while wearing a high fashion take on straitjackets, with creative director Alessandro Michele explaining that the designs made a statement about “the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it”.
However, Tan-Jones made it clear that they disapproved of the straitjackets, which were used for limiting the movements of patients in mental health facilities, by writing “Mental Health Is Not Fashion” on their hands and holding them up for the audience to see as they paraded down the runway. A press officer for the company confirmed the protest was not planned, according to editors at the Guardian.
Tan-Jones later shared a post on Instagram in which they stated that straitjackets symbolised “a cruel time in medicine when mental illness was not understood”, and called Gucci’s use of the imagery “hurtful and insensitive”, “in bad taste”, and “vulgar, unimaginative and offensive”.
In a new post on Monday, the non-binary musician and activist thanked fans for supporting their “peaceful protest” and revealed they and other models would be donating a portion of their fee to mental health charities.
In the show notes for their fashion show, Gucci bosses stated that the straitjackets would not be sold in stores, and were solely used to make a statement.
Gucci is no stranger to backlash. The brand sparked debate last year when it released a balaclava turtleneck that covered half the face and featured large red lips on a cut-out around the mouth. It was called out for evoking blackface iconography, with bosses quickly issuing an apology and removing the item from stores.
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