A model silently protested on the runway Gucci’s straitjacket-style opening looks

Two things happened at Sunday’s Gucci Spring/Summer 2020 show. The first being, Alessandro Michele presented his work, some 100-looks. They were introduced by a handful of not-for-sale straitjacket-style white looks. The last of these (now removed from Vogue’s website) went down the moving runway and then Michele’s much different, actual collection proceeded. The second thing happened during the first, which was non-binary artist and musician Ayesha Tan Jones––or Yaya Bones––walking the runway in one of these looks with their palms raised to make visible defiant writing: “Mental health is not fashion.” Yaya was silently protesting the use of the straitjacket at the luxury fashion show.

Their respective messages overlapped then––that is Michele’s and Yaya’s. Perhaps backstage the models weren’t made aware by Michele that the institutionally drab pieces and straitjackets they were wearing were meant as a mere antithetical vehicle to deliver a message about cultivating beauty, making diversity sacrosanct and celebrating the self. Even so, without seeing the collection as a whole––for the models––interpretation was only first-hand. On Yaya’s Instagram, she posted an impassioned and informational note which backed her decision to peacefully deliver her own message during the show. It began, “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.” The model, who also founded a “holistic self defense class for women, binary and non binary trans folk, POC and QTIBPOC,” explained the stigmatization that people with mental health issues face. On Instagram, Gucci indirectly responded by explaining the shows introduction writing, “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,” going on to add, “@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.”

In a second post, Yaya thanked those who supported her and noted she and others took action by donating to mental health charities. This isn’t the first time the catwalk has been used as impromptu means to express criticism and many times the show is an act of protest in and of itself.



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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

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