On more than one occasion, we've seen designs at Fashion Week that have caused us to wonder, “Um, in what world did this seem like a good idea?” There’s been cultural appropriation, confusing styling choices, and, in the case of Gucci’s Spring 2020 collection, there were straightjackets worn by models who came down the runway on a conveyer belt.
Ayesha Tan-Jones, a model who was cast in the show, opted to peacefully protest while in front of the cameras. Before stepping out, the model wrote "Mental health is not fashion" on the palms of their hands using black ink, sending a powerful message to both the world and one of the most prestigious fashion houses out there.
Afterward, Tan-Jones took to Instagram to further explain their decision.
“As an artist and model who has experienced my own struggled 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,” they wrote.
The model added that straightjackets, “are a symbol of a cruel time in medicine when mental illness was not understood and people’s liberties were taken away from them while they were abused and tortured in the institution.”
"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," they said. "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!"
They also revealed that many of the other runway models "felt just as strongly" about the straightjackets that they did, and said there was plans to donate a portion of their fees to charity, before shouting out some such as Mind, Mermaids UK, and Stonewall UK, among others.
According to a statement from Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele, the collection wasn't meant to be disrespectful, but was actually, "about humanity and uniforms. A uniform is something that blocks and constrains you — that makes you anonymous. That makes you follow the direction of travel." To him, straightjackets are "the highest type of uniform."
There is no plan to actually sell the straightjackets, as they were just meant to make a statement during the show.