Hermès makes a bags of its Irish exclusive by mistaking four-leaf clover for shamrock


SACRE BLEU! In a rare faux-pas, the French luxury goods company Hermès has used a four-leaf clover instead of the three-leaf shamrock as a visual symbol of Ireland.

The Paris-based design house – famed for its silk scarves, ties and leather bags – has created a new crocodile-skin handbag to “honour” Ireland but our best- known emblem has been given an extra leaf. The error is surprising given the company’s reputation for meticulous attention to detail.

The shamrock had already been embarrassingly modified – in the United States – earlier this year. In February, the New York Times reported that green “O’Bama” T-shirts featuring a four-leaf clover had been offered for sale by the president’s re-election campaign team.

Following a complaint from “the owner of an Irish saloon” in Manhattan, the T-shirts were amended to feature the three-leaf version.

Despite costing thousands of euros, Hermès handbags frequently attract waiting lists in exclusive shops worldwide including the sole outlet in Ireland – a concession in Brown Thomas on Dublin’s Grafton Street.

But the new bag is the ultimate exclusive – only one version of the “Passe-Guide Ireland” handbag has been made – and it will be sold by international auctioneers Christie’s next month. It has an estimate of £22,000-£24,000 (€26,651-€29.074).

A spokeswoman said: “The romanticism and mystery of the Emerald Isle is captured in the vivid green crocodile skin.”

She said the colour was “a deep shade developed by Hermès specifically for this project and christened ‘Irish green’. The handbag has silver fittings and an interior lined with butter-soft lambskin.”

But the pièce de résistance is an attached “lucky charm” – described as “an over-sized four- leaf clover” – also in “Irish green crocodile”.

The Passe-Guide model – introduced in 1975 – was inspired by the firm’s roots as an equestrian harness and saddle maker.

All Passe-Guide bags have metallic fittings and “the name and clasp refer to the ring at the front of Roman chariots that kept the reins of the carriage in place”.

Christie’s said Hermès had “created four one-of-a-kind versions of its Passe- Guide handbag, representing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales; a tribute to the United Kingdom and Ireland”.

Each one features a “special lucky charm attachment; a humorous tribute to each country”.

The England version has a black fur charm; “a nod to the iconic bearskin hats of the Queen’s Guard”; the Wales bag has “a fierce” Welsh dragon, and the Scotland bag bears a jumbo kilt pin.

The four will go on view in London next month ahead of the online-only auction. They will be sold on Thursday, May 31st, with the proceeds donated to London’s Royal Academy of Arts.