Ayesha Tan Jones, a non-binary British model appeared representing Gucci at Milan fashion week with a message on hands. The message said, “mental health is not fashion”. The 26-year-old shares her views on Gucci’s new straitjackets to be “vulgar” and “triggering”.
On the other side, Gucci responses it to be an out of context thing and a part of a broader concept of break free on an Instagram post.
Ayesha shares a struggle with mental health in the past and narrates this incident as a courageous and brave thing to do. Yet it is nowhere close to the mental health issues that people suffer every day. Ayesha believes that fashion labels don’t really care about the mental health of the models, which is a sad thing at their end.
Everyone including the fashion models experiences from body shaming that deeply impacts a person’s mental health. Models, in particular, have no space where they can put their voices on whatever designed put on them and call it clothes. Ayesha says that I am fed up from my 12 years of a modeling career. For Ayesha and a number of other models, modeling is contradictory to what it represents to the world by not speaking the inside out story. More Gucci model including Ayesha are donating their catwalk fee to mental health charities as a part of this protest.
Mental health and fashion go side by side
At this stage, mental health seems to be a real issue and everyone regardless of suffering from it or not should speak for it. Ayesha uploaded a video message on Instagram profile. For Ayesha and a lot more models, this struggle to get out of bed and get ready for the cameras requires a lot of courage and bravery. It gets double when someone is suffering from mental health issues. That is why Ayesha honored the message during the last catwalk at Milan Fashion Week.
Many other Gucci models from the same show have similar thoughts on the depiction of straitjackets. This internal support gives more strength for models like Ayesha to walk out and cast a protest, peacefully.
Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michele shares his view on the use of straitjackets to be a normal part of the creativity. He says that he wants all everyone to find his or her own individuality in society by the help of fashion that portrays Gucci as an antidote.
Catwalk is not just any walk on the ramp but a road that takes a person from conformity to independence in a creative way. Any piece of cloth, uniforms or utilitarian dresses like straight jackets is a part of a creative effort showing societal restriction and governing factors. All these clothes from Gucci are a part of performing creativity and to understand it better Alessandro Michele suggests watching the fashion show.
Previous criticisms on the fashion house within 2019
Gucci has also experienced criticisms in the past. Earlier this year the brand canceled a jumper from their collection for its resemblance with a “blackface”. It was a beautiful black jumper covering the lower part of the face showing a design of a red cut-out around the mouth area.
Again in May, Gucci was under questions for selling a headpiece, which resembles a turban showing insensitivity to Sikh religious sentiments worldwide. Later Gucci apologized for causing any offense and explained this turban-like headpiece “as a part of their diversity plan”.
Is the message clear for everyone?
On the other side, a prominent name in journalism, Vanessa Friedman, Chief Fashion Critic in New York Times finds this metaphor as unclear. She says Gucci has not given it the attention that it needed to make it perceivable. She is surprised to see straitjackets in Milan Fashion Week.
Vanessa suggests to all designers to look closely on the viewer’s end to find how challenging it can be for them. Talking about this particular fashion show, nothing was clear and it was an uncomfortable experience for many.
The reason why the fashion industry is growing is how it plays with the psyche of the viewers. In the case of mental health, the role of fashion is not something that anyone can ignore. These runway shows are not just a representation of clothes but a philosophy that must reflect itself. On the basis of this fact, all big fashion brands should take more responsibility for mirroring their ideas.