- Oprah gave extraordinary interview to Swiss newspaper Blick claiming she experienced what ‘people of black or brown color experience daily’
- Oprah has accused a store assistant at a Zurich store of ‘racism’ for refusing to show her a $38,000 Tom Ford Jennifer handbag
- Said she was dressed nicely and ‘didn’t look like a homeless person’ and usually people are ‘pressing noses against glass to watch her shopping’
- Admits she wouldn’t have bought the bag if she knew its price before she asked to see it
- Oprah regrets that it has become a ‘national affair’ in Switzerland
By ALLAN HALL IN ZURICH
PUBLISHED: 06:09 EST, 14 August 2013 | UPDATED: 09:26 EST, 14 August 2013
Oprah Winfrey insisted that she WAS a victim of racism and she experienced what ‘people of black or brown color experience daily’, in an interview with a Swiss newspaper published today.
Oprah, one of the world’s richest women, revealed on Entertainment Tonight last week that she felt discriminated against when a sales assistant in a luxury Zurich Boutique refused to show her a $38,000 handbag designed by Tom Ford and named after Jennifer Aniston.
‘I was asked if I am confronted with racism,’ she told Swiss daily Blick in an interview in Los Angeles on Monday night but not published until today.
‘My answer – not in the same way as others because I am so well known. Except on Twitter, no-one dares confront me with the N-word. I feel discrimination in a different way.
‘My antenna receives an underlying “what is going on here?” I called Zurich an example, because it was happening.’
Asked if she was being ‘particularly sensitive,’ she said: ‘No! I know of no black man who was never stopped by police because of his skin color, or persecuted, but it’s different for women. What I’ve experienced in Switzerland happened only once before in my life.
‘So I didn’t want to indict Switzerland. It was a single incident. An incident that people of black or brown color experience daily.
She even added that she was tempted to call her friends Ford or Aniston as she stood in the store.
‘It was however uncommon for that to happen to me. Believe me, usually sales people rejoice when I come to them in their business. It is very unusual that I’m not really involved when in a boutique. Outside, people usually press their noses flat against the windows to see me shopping.’
Oprah had claimed in the original Entertainment Tonight that the Italian-born sales assistant refused to show her the crocodile leather bag, the suggestion being, she implied, that as a black woman she could not afford it.
The incident happened at the Trois Pommes Boutique in Storchengasse, a street behind the ritzy Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, one of the world’s wealthiest and most expensive cities.
Oprah was invited to be a guest in July at the wedding of soul singer Tina Turner in Switzerland and wanted a handbag to compliment her outfit.
‘The employees first check out what clothes you’re wearing. Therefore I chose a Donna Karan outfit – and even washed my hair even. So nobody could mistake me for a homeless person who got lost in the store.
‘The woman did not want to get down the bag which I wanted to look at. The effort was too much for her. She said to me, that the bag was simply too expensive. And I said: “I want to see it anyway.” Instead she tossed me cheaper bags.
‘I said: “Okay, thank you very much! But I really want to see the others.” She still kept showing me the cheaper ones.
‘To be honest, if I had known upfront what this damned bag cost, do you know what? The woman was right: I would not have bought the thing – far too expensive! Too expensive! $38,000! I would have fainted when I saw the price tag.’
She continued: ‘The saleslady said it was the Jennifer Aniston bag that was created by Tom Ford for Jennifer. The idea went through my head that I should call Jennifer or Tom – I know them both very well. Instead I said to the saleslady: “Okay, I understand. The bag is just for Jennifer, and only she is allowed to buy it, right?
‘The woman said “no, no” and tried to explain something. But I was no longer listening. I just said: “Thank you very much, you’re probably right that I can’t afford it.”
‘I went. I didn’t want to make a scene. Really not. That’s why it annoys me now too, that it has become this major international story. And that the names of Tom Ford and Jennifer Aniston were pulled in too. The whole thing is really quite annoying.’
She acknowledges the apologies of the owner Trudie Goetz and the anonymous saleslady but added: ‘But I don’t know whether the apology brings something. Discrimination is there, anywhere around the world, every day. As I said, I did not want to bring the whole of Switzerland into disrepute.
‘Perhaps she never wanted to reach for the bag because it was too high up. Does anyone know? Anyway, I had a great time in Switzerland. My friend Tina Turner got married, I went for a walk every day. It’s a pity that such a big deal is now being made out of this other thing.’
The publication of the frank interview will do nothing to quell the war of words currently raging between the TV talk show queen and Goetz.
Yesterday Goetz said she wanted to speak personally to Winfrey and defended her employee to the hilt, adding: ‘I don’t know why she talked of racism. I am sorry, but perhaps she is being a little over-sensitive here. Maybe she was somewhat offended because she was not immediately recognized in the store.’