The poster for the ad, which shows the woman appearing to be naked under a demin burqa, has provoked outbursts on Twitter and Facebook after Shruti Parekh of MTV Desi, a digital platform aimed at people of South Asian origin in the United States, expressed dismay at seeing the ad emblazoned on a billboard in New York.
“Putting a white, non-Muslim woman in a burqa in our current global context is one level of disrespect, but making her topless takes it to a level that is hard for me to comprehend,” she said in a posting on Mtvdesi.com.
Parekh added that the ad flaunted “Western privilege”, with the slogan, “I am not what I appear to be” implying rebellion among muslim women with a subversive sub-text.
Nicola Formichetti, the artistic director of Diesel and former stylist to Lady Gaga, justified the ad by saying: "I wanted to find people who reflect the diversity of the creative community of today and not just the typical model."
Diesel is a multinational firm with headquarters in Molvena, northern Italy.