Roberto Cavalli's (slightly) lower-priced, young-adult targeted brand Just Cavalli has a controversial logo. A group of Islamic Sufis are petitioning Just Cavalli to change the logo, which they've deemed too similar to a sacred religious symbol.
The M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism, an international non-profit with headquarters in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and three U.S. states, is spearheading the movement. They claim that Roberto Cavalli is misrepresenting the Sufi faith by using a symbol nearly identical to one of their religious emblems. From the Change.org petition:
The religious emblem belongs to MTO Shahmaghsoudi, it represents peace, purity and the name of God. Students of this school feel very strongly about the illegitimate use of this emblem as the Just Cavalli logo. The logo has been tattooed onto models to represent snake bites and draws connotational indication of the deadly sins. This is completely opposing the original definition of the sacred emblem. Not only is its use disrespectful but it's also offensive and degrading.
An image featured on the Change.org page illustrates that the two symbols are, indeed, very similar. According to Stylite, Cavalli has claimed that the logo used by Just Cavalli is meant to represent a snakebite. This makes sense, given Cavalli's love of the reptilian — as Stylite points out, he just keeps trying to make lace-up snakeskin stilettos a thing. The logo, printed onto the model's neck in the image below, does have sharp edges that could resemble pointy snake teeth.
Whether Cavalli's art directors actually gained inspiration from the Sufi symbol is irrelevant to those who are petitioning for the logo's removal. Nasim Bahadorani, a Sufi and fashion-lover, told Stylite:
To see the Just Cavalli logo sold on perfume bottles, shirts, sunglasses and to see it tattooed on naked models writhing in sexual lust is disrespectful and demeaning to the value of the Sacred Emblem which stands for universal harmony, unity and awakening of the heart to the reality of infinite existence! This thus becomes outrageous, abhorrent and heartrending.
This is not the first time Cavalli has stirred up controversy with a religious community. In 2004 he featured Hindu gods such as "Vishnu, Lord Rama and Devi Swaraswati on bikinis," to the (rightful) displeasure of Hindus all over the world. The wares were eventually removed from stores, with the official statement that the brand "obviously didn't realize this would cause offense."
Outraged Sufis have taken to social media with the hashtag #TakeOffJustLogo to raise awareness. At the time of this publication, the change.org petition had 1,806 signatures. The misappropriation of important religious symbolism is not okay, accidental or not. Hopefully the Cavalli brand will take precautions against similar incidents in the future.
We've reached out to Cavalli's camp for comment and will update if they respond.