August 13th, 2013
Fashion, Fashion News
The Fashion Bomb News Breakdown: Swiss Shopgirl Says Oprah Winfrey is Lying About Racist Incident, H&M Removes Offensive Feather Headband From Stock, and Naeem Khan Settles Lawsuit With Former Creative Director
By The Fashion Bomb Staff


• A former shopgirl at Zurich’s Trois Pommes boutique is calling Oprah Winfrey a liar after the famed talk show host-cum-network mogul said she experienced racism at her hand as she was shopping for a bag on Entertainment Tonight. Winfrey was in town for Tina Turner‘s wedding, and says that the store clerk would not show her a bag she wanted to purchase, deeming it ‘too expensive’ for the billionaire. “I said, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and the shopkeeper said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said, ‘Okay, thank you so much. You’re probably right, I can’t afford it.’ And I walked out of the store.” That shopkeep has come forward to Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick to say that Oprah is not telling the truth: “I don’t know why she is making these accusations. I explained to her the bags come in different sizes and materials, like I always do,” she said. “She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag. I simply told her it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags.”  The anonymous store associate is appalled; simply appalled that Oprah would ever accuse her of such behavior. “She is so powerful, and I am just a shop girl. I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.” Of course, a powerful woman like Oprah doesn’t have enough going for her, that she must publicly lambast a poor humble shopkeep for sport. Both representatives from the Swiss tourism office and Trois Pommes’s owner (who, ironically, was at the wedding) have apologized to Oprah for the incident. (Gawker)

• Canadian H&M stores have pulled a feather headband they were selling as part of their summer music festival accessories options, after receiving several complaints from angry customers that the piece was offensive to First Nation peoples. The retailer promptly removed the headband from their stores, not before a rousing rendition of the old classic, ‘We Didn’t Mean No Harm by it’: “Music festivals these days are really about experimenting with fashion and dressing your personality. And they’re very heavily based on accessories, really accessorizing your look,” H&M spokeswoman Emily Scarlett said in a statement. “Of course we never want to offend anybody or come off as insensitive. We’re always about being there for our customers.” You think brands might learn to be a little more careful– Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret have been in the press lately for insensitive use of Native American-inspired headdresses. But as sure as there are white models to paint black for a Vogue editorial, other retail will certainly run into similar trouble in the future. (Telegraph)

CARRIE UNDERWOOD at Billboard Music Awards

• Carrie Underwood is the latest singer to team with Nicole by OPI for a limited edition collection of 14 lacquers. Look for them in stores this January. (WWD)


• Naeem Khan has settled a suit filed by his former creative director Lionel Geneste for monies he says he was entitled to, but not paid after parting ways with the company in 2006. Geneste says that while he was employed by Khan, he was supposed to receive a 5 percent commission on sales, which were to be paid to him eight to twelve months after retailers had bought the collection. He was initially seeking $300,000, but courts ruled that he was entitled to only $125,000. It seems that both Khan and Geneste are just glad the case is over. Khan saw the whole thing as a nuisance, constantly reiterating to WWD that the ordeal was taking time away from preparing for New York Fashion Week. “The thing is, I have my collection to show Sept. 10. I want this to be over with,” he said. Khan claims that Geneste was fired because he had committed identity fraud. “He had used his boyfriend’s social security number on the tax forms he provided to my company when he was hired. In addition, he had developed a pattern of long, unexcused absences.” Geneste says that as he had not received a US visa until 2007, he didn’t have a social security number. There’s been a fair amount of mudslinging too. Witnesses taking the stand in Geneste’s defense said that he had brought Khan’s label to the next level, and that they saw he and his wife doing coke at a party back in 2006. Khan of course denies these claims: “this person [will] stop at nothing in terms of false allegations in order to damage my brand and hurt my family.” (WWD)


• Alexander McQueen has partnered with Damien Hirst to design a collection of skull-print scarves to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the label’s famed foulards. According to WWD, the scarves are a hybrid of Hirst’s “Entomology” designs, with “butterflies, bugs, spiders and other creepy crawlies worked geometrically into the shape of the McQueen skull motif.” If you’re up for the splurge, prices start at $476.50, and will be available at McQueen boutiques come mid November.(WWD)


• Lady Gaga‘s up to her usual antics, hard at work promoting her new album ARTPOP. She hit the streets and the Ryan Seacrest Show with her face made up as it is for her ‘Applause’ album artwork. (Daily Mail)



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21 Responses to “The Fashion Bomb News Breakdown: Swiss Shopgirl Says Oprah Winfrey is Lying About Racist Incident, H&M Removes Offensive Feather Headband From Stock, and Naeem Khan Settles Lawsuit With Former Creative Director”

  1. JrDesignerLove says:

    I know if I was working in retail and someone came in asking to see an expensive bag. I would be jumping up for joy thinking about the commission I would make. Clearly the girl is either lazy or racist, or both.

  2. Anonymous says:

    480$ for a scarf, Wow!

  3. Crystal says:

    I don’t know what happened but I think Oprah ran with this story to promote her movie. Doesn’t sound like the girl said she couldn’t afford the bag (as previously rumored). Sounds like it would’ve taken effort to get the bag so the clerk was being lazy and trying to show her something comparable. My take on the situation….

  4. Bhud says:

    Kinda believe the shopgirl especially because O wasn’t explicitly crying racism, but just used that anecdote convientently during a panel on racism. it sounds more to me like she was just lazy, which happens to all employees here and there. as a black person i know I take customer service to the extreme cause im kinda looking for reasons to scream :’racism!’, but sometimes they just don’t say hi when you walk in; black, white, grey,…

  5. I don’t think Oprah has a reason to lie on the shop keeper. Either there was a misunderstanding or the shop keeper is embarrassed an probably didn’t know it was the Big O. On another note, I see nothing wrong with the headband H&M was selling. People wear very similar headbands to those hippy trippy wannabe festivals all the time so what’s the problem? People will always find a reason to complain. Get a life…

  6. Empress says:

    Yea, Oprah has nothing better to do so she would blatantly lie on a shopgirl! Racism is alive and well! WAKE UP PROPLE!

  7. Danielle says:

    I don’t understand why the shop girl couldn’t have just shown her the croc bag? It seems like she is trying to dig herself out of the hole. If Oprah wanted to see the bag that she asked for, why not show it to her? It makes no sense to tell an interested customer that she should look for similiar styles…. unless the bag in the case is not for sale (which was not stated). Why was she hesitating to show her the bag? And then she tries to make it out to be that the bag was far above her head as if she wouldn’t be able to reach it…yet she waste no time to mention that the bag costs $35,000. somethin’ don’t sound right.

  8. sweetie says:

    Now that this shopgirl is feeling the heat shes calling oprah a liar, why will oprah lie about something like this? If she had shown the bag to her right away when she asked, there wouldnt have been any problems, there was no need for her to suggest to oprah abt similar bags blah blah,show her the specific bag she asked for period. shame on her.

  9. NickieLuv621 says:

    @ Danielle – Thank you!
    If I ask for a particular bag why the hell would you tell me you have something similar – thereby implying that I couldn’t possibly afford the one I asked for. Get the hell outta here! That thought process is so embedded in some of these people that they can’t see the forest from the trees at this point. I’d do the same as “O”, kindly walk out the store because clearly they do not deserve my hard earned money.

  10. Kitty B. says:

    @Crystal I said the samething to someone yesterday, running with it for promotion…I do feel the situation is wrong on all levels, BUT I do believe Ms Oprah Winfrey’s ego was bruised…she was brought right back down to reality for a sec and doesnt know how to handle it…

    The scarf is too much for my blood…

  11. Anonymous says:

    First of all Oprah never mentioned the store name or the girls name. The sales girl and store exposed themselves. At the end of the day, she should have just showed her the exact bag Oprah wanted. I could definitely see the miscommunication in this.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I know there’s a thin line between racism and discrimination. But I honestly believe we need to know when to use the word. Do I believe the Swiss girl was being racist? No! Did she discriminate against Oprah due the color of her skin? Probably!

  13. S says:

    Shop boutique girl…Trick please! The media is on your behind and now Oprah’s a liar. The big bad billionaire has nothing better to do than to sully your “good” name. GTHOH! I may have even tried to give you the benefit of the doubt except for the fact that something similar happened to me and my hubby several years ago at Neiman Marcus in my hometown. I wanted to see a Louis Vitton purse, but the girl at the counter seemed to think her name was Neiman Marcus.

  14. ANON00 says:

    First of all, I can’t understand how anyone would not know who Oprah is, IDGAF if her show never aired in Swizerland or not, she’s a media mogul & is everywhere U mean in her twenty something yrs of living she never heard of Billionaire Oprah?! Obama isn’t the prez of Morocco, they still know who he is! I feel like Oprah was moreso embarrassed because the lady acted like she didn’t know who she was. Oprah more than likely wasn’t gonna buy a 38k bag bc she’s frugal, but idk whether the shop lady was just dumb or racist, or a bit of both, tbh.

  15. Sandra says:

    @ Danielle well said. I have to add that O never mentioned the store nor the sales woman’s name so why are people attacking her.

    I do believe O, and this woman, now that she has been exposed is trying to cry foul. She can have a seat. When I go to a store, I expect people to do their job and not tell me what I can or cannot see, afford or not afford.

    She clearly failed at doing her job and for that, she should have been disciplined by upper management. Let’s hope she learned her valuable lesson when it comes to customer service.

  16. S says:

    @Sandra, I completely agree with you and Danielle. I saw Oprah’s interview on Entertainment Tonight and you’re right she never mentioned the store or the person by name. However, the mainstream media being what it is went on a mission obviously. The next day the report was updated with pics of the store front and the owner speaking on the situation. IMO, you don’t have to like Oprah or be a fan to know who she is. I’m not a Mick Jagger fan but I know who the heck he is. It was not the shop girl’s place to determine who may or may not have the means to buy a $38,000 purse, just show the thing to who asks lady.

  17. Georgia says:

    The shopgirl’s version doesn’t sound at all different from Oprah’s; the difference–and problem–is perception. Oprah damn sure knew what was going on, and the shopgirl does not assume she did anything wrong because her beliefs and prejudices are ingrained. I don’t even like Oprah, but I know she knows what it feels like to shop while black.

  18. Natasha says:

    Have you seen O without makeup?? I could pass her in the street and not recognize her. Whether it was her or not, the STORY is what matters.

    Even if we meet somewhere in the middle of both sides of the story, the fact of the matter is that a prospect was denied the opportunity to see an item. It could be from laziness or discrimination, as other posters have suggested. Which one is the better one to fess up to? :lol:

    Kudos to O (and I don’t say that much) for bringing up the issue of discrimination in such a respectful way: it happens to women of color DAILY!

    People should hear about it and know it’s wrong.

    If the store wants to use the mantra of “any publicity is good publicity” then they should take their lumps without trying to disparage someone who was simply trying to shop there.

  19. Jei says:

    @Danielle Agreed. Whether the fact if she knew who Oprah was or not is irrelevant, she failed to do her job. Anyone who has worked in retail knows customers ask to “see” things all the time && may not necessarily end up buying the item for one reason or another. But for the shop girl to mention the price or say it’s “much more expensive” would imply that the customer could not afford it, who happened to be Oprah in this case. I’m glad Oprah walked out of that store && didn’t give them a dime of her money. I hope the lesson was learned.

  20. Serenity says:

    Why would Oprah lie on a shop girl? Does Oprah plan to sue?

  21. Brandi says:

    If a known billionaire or even multi-millionaire asks to see anything in your store, you show it to them. That’s it, that’s all. Frankly, even if someone who doesn’t look like they have the $$ asks, you should still show it because you never know what a persons bank account really is.

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