A model staged a mental health protest during the Gucci show in Milan

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Ayesha Tan-Jones held up their hands to reveal the words “mental health is not fashion” in protest to the straitjackets that appeared on the Gucci catwalk in Milan.

Model Ayesha Tan-Jones staged a protest at Gucci’s spring/summer 2020 show in Milan on Sunday (September 22). The British model held up their hands to reveal the words “mental health is not fashion”, as they made their way down the conveyor belt that doubled up as the catwalk. 

The protest related to the opening sequence of the Italian mega-brand’s show, which featured a series of high-fashion takes on the straitjacket. The Kering-owned brand said the outfits were designed to represent “the most extreme version of restriction imposed by society and those who control it.”

Explaining the decision to take a stand, Tan-Jones said in an Instagram post: “I chose to protest the Gucci SS20 runway show as I believe, as many of my fellow models do, that the stigma around mental health must end. 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, is hurtful and insensitive for a major fashion house such as Gucci to use this imagery as a concept for a fleeting fashion moment.” 

Tan-Jones continued: “It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of straitjackets and outfits alluding to mental patients, while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat. Presenting these struggles as props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues.” 

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Hello ✨ I just want to say Thank You for all the support so many of you have given me since I lifted my hands in peaceful protest on the Gucci Runway show yesterday 💖 I feel very blessed to be surrounded by supportive comrades, and to know that there are so many people sharing support online for this action ✊🏽 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. 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 ! ☀️ The support people have shown to my act is more than I could imagine, so I only trust that we will share this same support to our friends, siblings, loved ones, acquaintances, internet friends or even strangers, who might be going through tough times with their Mental Health. Showing up for them may come in many forms, check in via text or DM, listen to them with patience and without judgement, offer a helping hand with household tasks like food shop, cooking or cleaning, regularly remind them how amazing and strong they are, but also that is okay feel the feels too, Lets show up for people with mental health and help end the stigma together !🌻 Many of the other Gucci models who were in the show felt just as strongly as I did about this depiction of straightjackets, and without their support I would not have had the courage to walk out and peacefully protest. Some have chosen to donate a portion their fee, and I 100% of mine, to mental health charities, who are doing amazing work for people today! Below are tags to some amazing charities that I encourage, if you have the resources and capacity to, please donate in any way you can, and in my linktree ( in bio ) is a google doc to websites for more charities !

A post shared by YaYa Bones (@ayeshatanjones) on

The model told Vogue that they, and others on the Gucci spring/summer 2020 runway, have chosen to donate a portion of pay from the show to various mental health charities. 

Actress Hari Nef, who sat front row at the Gucci show, defended the concept, writing on Instagram: “The clinical whites that opened the show were upsetting – willfully: more a provocative reminder of submission than a glamorisation of insanity.”

Gucci has confirmed the “utilitarian uniforms” were “a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold in shops.” A spokesperson later added: “The show presented how society today can have the ability to confine individuality and how Gucci can be the antidote… It was a journey from conformity to freedom and creativity. The white outfits were a statement for the fashion show and part of a performance, in the sense of setting the context for what followed.”

It is not the first time Gucci has faced controversy; the brand apologised for a sweater that resembled blackface in February and was criticised for putting white models in turbans during its autumn/winter ’18/’19 show. Burberry also faced backlash earlier this year for a hoodie that featured ties that resembled a noose during its autumn/winter ’19/’20 show; later apologising for insensitivity.

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