A sultry ad for a perfume created by Roberto Cavalli has
touched a raw nerve with followers of Islamic Sufism, who claim
the Italian design house has inappropriately used a symbol
sacred to practitioners of their mystical faith.
Commercials for the scent Just Cavalli, featuring the
scantily clad daughter of rock star Mick Jagger, have
provoked demonstrations outside stores in cities as far flung
as San Francisco and Beverly Hills in California and
Dusseldorf, Germany. More protests are planned this weekend
in Chicago and London.
Followers of the M.T.O Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic
Sufism, which counts some 500,000 adherents worldwide, say
the logo of the Just Cavalli line resembles a trademarked
sacred emblem and they want it removed.
The logo in question is a stylized "H" lying on its side.
Sufis say it is based on their centuries-old upright symbol
of an Arabic word that spells "Allah" and represents peace
"To use something that means so much to us for corporate
profit cheapens our sacred symbol," said one of the campaign
organizers, Nasim Bahadorani, a doctoral student and ethnic
Iranian born in San Diego. "It's disrespectful, offensive and
The Roberto Cavalli company, which has used the logo since
2011, says the symbols are neither similar nor mistakable.
Last month, the European Union's trademark and design
authority, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal
Market (OHIM), agreed, and rejected an official request by
the Sufis to invalidate the Just Cavalli logo.
"Roberto Cavalli SpA is deeply saddened by the distress
expressed by the Sufist School students, but hopes that the
sentence emitted by a competent authority such as the OHIM,
will convince the Sufist religion of the complete good faith
and the groundlessness of their requests," the company said
this week in a statement.
Undeterred by the EU decision, Sufi followers have taken
matters into their own hands. In recent weeks they stepped up
their campaign with a Facebook page, YouTube videos, a
#TakeOffJustLogo Twitter drive and a series of demonstrations
outside stores selling Cavalli fashion, shoes and other
They have taken particular offense to promotions for the Just
Cavalli perfume featuring model Georgia May Jagger. The
daughter of the Rolling Stones frontman and his ex-wife Jerry
Hall, appears to be wearing only pink snakeskin pants.
In a promotional video, Jagger sports the controversial logo
tattooed on her wrist, saying it represents a "snake bite,"
and is a "sign of seduction."
Another video shows Jagger, 22, stripping down to her bra,
showing off her tattoo, and flirting with a shirtless man.
"We have this sign that to us represents blessed peace. It's
a refuge," said Bahadorani. "To see it disgraced like this
for a company to make money is heartbreaking."
Cavalli butted heads with another religion 10 years ago,
featuring Hindu deities on a bikini line that was carried by
Harrods department store in London. The store stopped selling
the clothing, while Cavalli said the swimwear was not
intended to offend.