Wednesday, May. 25, 2011

Oprah's Crash Moment

Call it the shutout heard round the world. On June 22, 2005, Oprah was denied entrance to the Hermès luxury store in Paris, sparking a flurry of speculation as to why the billionaire talk-show host was rebuffed. The New York Post published an account of the incident that said Hermès staff failed to recognize the celeb sans makeup and asked her to leave — in part because the store had been "having a problem with North Africans lately."

Other news sources reported that Hermès kept Oprah out because she arrived just after the store had closed. A spokesperson at Harpo Productions referred to the incident as "Oprah's Crash moment," drawing a comparison to the racially charged film. After fans began boycotting the store, Oprah decided to confront the situation by addressing her television audience. She dismissed tabloid accounts of the story, saying that while the store was close to closing, there was apparently still customer activity inside. Calling the experience "humiliating," Oprah accused one "rude" employee of forcing her to wait outside the store for permission to enter and called the experience a familiar one for any person "who has ever been snubbed because you were not chic enough or thin enough or the right class or the right color." Hermès president Robert Chavez appeared on the show to publicly apologize to Oprah for the actions of "one very, very rigid staff member," effectively ending the dispute.