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Model protests Gucci while walking for the fashion house at Milan Fashion Week: ‘Mental health is not in fashion’

2019-09-24

Model behavior against fashion faux pas?

A model protested against Gucci — while walking for the iconic brand during Milan Fashion Week — in a spectacular and viral-friendly way.

Ayesha Tan-Jones, a 26-year-old London-based model, artist and musician who identifies as binary and uses they/their pronouns, didn’t care for Gucci’s use of straitjackets as a fashion accessory in its spring/summer 2020 collection.

So Tan-Jones decided to take matters into their own hands.

When 20 models — all dressed in white, with their arms by their side, and portraying a blank and somber stare — walked down the runway at the opening of Sunday’s show, Tan-Jones lifted up their hands, displaying a message written in black marker: “MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT FASHION.”

The message was heard loud and clear.

“I chose to protest the Gucci S/S/ 2020 runway show as I believe, as many of my fellow models do, that the stigma around mental health must end,” Tan-Jones later explained in their Instagram account.

"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," they continued.

STATEMENT for my protest of the @gucci show ??? MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT FASHION

A post shared by YaYa Bones (@ayeshatanjones) on

Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, explained his controversial fashion choice saying that he wanted to show Gucci as an “antidote” to society’s ability to “confine individuality,” he told The New York Times.

“The show was the journey from conformity to freedom and creativity. Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, such 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.

Tan-Jones didn’t buy it.

“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,” they wrote.

On Monday, Tan-Jones explained to BuzzFeedNews that they made the decision to protest against Gucci the night before the show, after a fellow model “walked off the job” because he was “disgusted by the clothes and chose to go home.”

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

In an Instagram post, Gucci said that the clothes were only a statement and that they are not going to be sold.

“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," the post read.

Michele “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,” the post continued referring to the collection, which has 89 looks.