My fake handbag line
The kerfuffle over a Swiss shop assistant refusing to show a handbag to Oprah Winfrey in Zurich has prompted many questions in my mind apart from disgust over the apparent racism of that refusal. Chiefly among them is: Why are there handbags priced at $35,000 apiece? Also, why is Tina ‘What’s love go to do with it’’ Turner getting married?*
Also, presuming that the Trois Pommes/Tom Ford handbag in question was made with cowhide/crocodile hide (Many of them are), what about the cow or the crocodile which can no longer hide in their own hide? (Hypocrisy alert, I also wear leather shoes and belts and carry a wallet). I am pretty certain the notion of the cow’s or crocodile’s consent was not even considered by the handbag makers. Of course, it is possible that the hide was obtained posthumously but it still begs the question whether that posthumousness resulted from a natural cause or was leather industry-caused. In short, I have many questions.
Coming back to the issue at hand and going by what Winfrey is saying, the saleswoman did seem to imply that she could not afford the particular handbag (priced at $35,000). Now why the shop assistant made that determination is open to interpretation but the most logical one seems to be easy racism. According to the BBC, which managed to track down the particular shop, quoted its owner Trudie Gotz as saying that it was all a “misunderstanding.” The BBC also said quoted her saying this:
"My salesperson wanted to give her the handbag in her hand. But she didn’t want to take the bag," claimed Gotz.
She said her assistant had worked in the Trois Pommes store "for a few years and takes care of the most spoilt customers from all over the world", adding, "she is really a correct sales person".
Is she implying that Winfrey is among “the most spoilt customers from all over the world”? If she is, she is compounding the act of stepping into racist dung.
The story has played so big that this morning while looking for some images of the Trois Pommes handbags my Google search mostly showed Winfrey’s pictures.
There has been the inevitable comparison between Winfrey’s experience in real life and the scene in ‘Pretty Woman’ where Julia Roberts is told by a snooty shop assistant at a chic store that she could not afford items there.
The tourism department of Switzerland is dropping cheese balls in its pants at the potential of public relations disaster that might result from the way one of the world’s most famous, not to mention richest, women was apparently treated. Perhaps for a short while the Swiss tourism catch phrase should, “Switzerland: Where all handbags are affordable by all.”
All that Oprah Winfrey needed to say at the Trois Pommes store in Zurich was that she was from Yash Raj Films. This is an inside joke which I am too bored to explain because it is not even that funny. Some Indian readers might catch the mildly humorous part of it.
* Winfrey was in Switzerland to attend Turner’s wedding.