Monday, June 27, 2005
Shocking, simply shocking, that the store treated Oprah, and indeed her entire 'team', so rudely, failing to open their doors for her entourage's entrance. Did they not hear the trumpets heralding her arrival? Honestly, I hate the French sometimes. So anti-American.
Luxury store Hermes on Wednesday apologized to Oprah Winfrey for turning her away last week, saying that its Paris store was closed to set up for a public relations event when the talk show host stopped by.
The store said the incident occurred on June 14 around 6:45 p.m., about 15 minutes after the store closed. It said Winfrey and her team arrived at a time when "a private PR event was being set up inside."
But wait, what's this? Oprah doesn't feel this is simply a case of rude Frenchman thumbing their noses at a boorish Yankee?
But apparently, the store disagrees with the star's account:
Harpo Productions spokeswoman Michelle McIntyre said Winfrey "will discuss her 'crash moment' when her show returns from hiatus in September."
"Crash" is a film dealing with race relations. The phrase "crash moment" refers to situations where a party feels discriminated against on the basis of skin color.
The New York Post, in its Monday Page Six gossip column, reported she was turned away because the store had been "having a problem with North Africans lately."
So let's get this straight.
The [Hermes] spokeswoman said Winfrey came to the store 15 minutes after closing and a security guard informed her the store was closed and gave her a card, telling her she could come back the next day.
Surveillance videotape of the encounter supports the store's account, according to the spokeswoman.
Oprah shows up 15 minutes after one of France's finest foppery facilities has locked its gold-encrusted doors. She has the perfectly reasonable expectation that the boutique should open anyway to someone of her stature, but is instead turned away. She complains, Hermes apologizes. Yet she nevertheless plans to make this a big discrimination issue on her show.
Has she lost her mind?
Look, there are clearly two audiences to this story. To the first audience, this is all playing out perfectly. Upscale, jet-setting celebs and the merchants who cater to them, faun over them, and spit shine their Gucci shoes without a rag -- to these people, it is perfectly reasonable that Oprah should pout at not having had the red carpet retroactively rolled out for her retinue. And the Hermes apology makes perfect sense too, in an obnoxiously obsequious sort of way: they have a a very valuable and very spoiled customer base to protect and pander to. I'm sure Oprah's decision will barely make a ripple in this small but exclusive pond.
But it appears Oprah has swallowed enough of her own celebrity Kool-aid that she now mistakes this warped world-view for the real world. She plans to stand before millions of her "ordinary" fans, her real audience, and announce how she was persecuted by being denied the opportunity to pay $6500 for a Parisien purse a mere 15 minutes after the riff-raff had been dismissed from her store of choice. And I'm sure the racial edge she apparently plans to add to the charges will go over well with her many minority viewers who have also been denied the basic human right of after-hours shopping sprees.
Obviously, I'm not denying there is racism in the world, even in France of all places. Nor do I deny Oprah the right to complain about whatever the heck she wants to. I'm just throwing out my guess that somewhere in one of the world's media capitals, a desperate PR executive right now has the Big O's cell on speed dial and auto-redial, frantic to talk her down from this ledge she's crawled out on. She might want to consider solidifying her base, the viewers who watch her show and buy the products she recommends, before catering to the wealthy French shopping demographic.
But even if Oprah has truly lost her marbles, the advertising and marketing executives need not worry, help is on the way. Martha's finally been paroled and should be out of her ankle bracelet soon.
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