Last month, Gucci’s spring-summer 2020 presentation in Milan made headlines after designer Alessandro Michele sent straitjacket-like blouses down the runway—which model YaYa Bones protested by writing, “Mental health is not fashion,” on their palms and journeying down Michele’s conveyor belt with their hands up and visible to the crowd and photographers. Fast forward a few weeks and fashionable people with a much more keen eye than myself noticed another interesting choice: some of the models wore “shackle-like ankle bracelets” or “electronic monitors” complete with what appeared to be “gold bullets, which in fact are Gucci Beauty lipsticks,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. Glamorizing both mental illness and house arrest in one collection has got to be some sort of record, right?
As my colleague Joan Summers pointed out, Gucci framed its Milan showcase as “a protest of sorts,” but a misguided one—a fashion show is meant to showcase designer goods for purchase and a consumerist exchange obviously cheapens whatever political goal Gucci might’ve set forth. Also, it doesn’t help that the luxury brand has had its fair share of unsavory press in the last few months. It wasn’t that long ago that Gucci released a $890 sweater bearing a striking resemblance to blackface: a dark neckline that extends to the nose and massive red lips that appear to be textbook minstrelsy. They eventually pulled the sweater, announced that they were going to hire a more diverse staff, and instructed its employees to prepare for “disruptive behavior,” in its stores. That was in February, and CEO Marco Bizzarri promised to ensure “any product that is, or may be perceived as, culturally insensitive does not get to the production stage.” For a few seconds there, it seemed like Gucci had been “canceled” by the public, but as is so clear in 2019, that doesn’t mean anything.
Gucci has yet to respond about the ankle monitor-like accessories, but I imagine that’s only a matter of time.