Fashion smackdown: Oprah vs. Hermes
Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've heard about Oprah's skirmish at Hermes (to make a long story short, Oprah tried to enter the venerated Paris store 15 mintues after it closed and was not allowed in due to, depending on the story, a PR event happening inside or a recent "problem with the North Africans"). While the former account has been more or less confirmed to be true, the incident has still, nonetheless, sparked much debate, especially on the Internet. Oprah has, off the record, referred to this as her "Crash" event, and one of the most embarrassing things that's ever happened to her (which I assume to be a slight exaggeration). But in this article by Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan (who, by the way, is black) makes several very rational points. One is that Hermes is one of the most expensive luxury brands in existence and this was a (perhaps unintentional) way to weed out "undesirable" clientele (like, say, Li'l Kim) in a sort of fashion Darwinism (as snobby and as racist as that may sound). Another is that Hermes was preparing for a huge event in-store, was taken off-guard by Oprah's arrival, and quite honestly didn't have time to lavish the proper amount of attention on her, even if she claimed she only wanted to pop in and buy a watch. Perhaps the most pertinent point that Givhan calls out is that an employee of the store dared to treat Oprah like--gasp!--a regular customer and not a mega-celebrity. Obviously, Oprah is not used to hearing the word "no." And, no doubt, she'll surely be trashing Hermes and screaming racism when she's back on the air in September (she's already cancelled her most recent Birkin order), and among Oprah's millions of viewers, most of whom can't afford more than a Twilly at the store anyway, "Hermes" is sure to become a dirty word. Which, in fashion's sick and twisted way, is sure to bolster its status as the ultimate luxury brand.

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