I thought we had put this story to rest, but the sales assistant in the racist handbag row with Oprah Winfrey at upscale Zurich boutique Trois Pommes is now speaking out and calling the talk-show diva a ‘liar.’ Last week, during an interview to promote upcoming blockbuster “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” Oprah Winfrey said a sales assistant at Trois Pommes refused to show her a $40,000 handbag because she is black and automatically assumed she couldn’t afford it.
Well, the bag lady spoke anonymously to newspaper SonntagsBlick, the Italian bag lady said she felt ‘powerless’ and in the grip of a ‘cyclone’ after Winfrey went on TV in America to claim she had been the victim of racism, the Daily Mail reports. Um, why did she chose to remain anonymous? If I was accused of being a racist, I would fight to clear my name and wouldn’t hesitate to show my face.
Daily Mail: Now the saleslady has hit back, stating: ‘I wasn’t sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection. ‘I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do.
‘She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag. ‘I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags.’It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.
She emphatically denied ever saying to Winfrey: ‘You don’t want to see this bag. It is too expensive. You cannot afford it.’
There are two possible scenarios in this dustup — language barrier and outright racial bias. Assuming that the sales assistant is telling the truth, why would Oprah Winfrey claim to be the victim of racism when she wasn’t? On the flip side, why did the unidentified sales assistant choose to show her bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection, “since she came in the afternoon?” What does that mean? How did she reach the conclusion that Oprah Winfrey was the Jennifer Aniston-type? Sounds like she engaged in typecasting.
[UPDATE 08/13/13] Oprah Winfrey says she is sorry for the uproar, media response caused by her comments about incident in Swiss luxury store – @Reuters