Lets then start with definitions of what these terms mean and imply:
A Special Issue is an original design that Hermes issued for either advertising or commemorative purposes.
Some examples include:
France – Designed by Christiane Vauzelles for the maiden voyage of the iconic ocean liner, France, on February 3rd 1962. Sold exclusively on board of the ship.
Le Grand Prix de Polo de Bagatelle – Designed by Jean-Louis Clerc in 1955 (never re-issued), The Polo de Bagatelle is the only Parisian polo club located in the Bois de Boulogne park.
Madison Avenue – Designed by Kermit Oliver in 2000 to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the opening of the Hermes Madison Avenue boutique in New York
A Limited Edition design will typically have a refence to a specific event, for example the store opening Brides de Gala gavroches that Hermes published to celebrate the opening of a new Hermes boutique and given as a gift to patrons.
Some examples include:
Cheval Fleuri (Neiman Marcus) – Designed by Henri d’Origny in 1962, reissued for Neiman Marcus in 2007 to commemorate their 100 year anniversary (1907-2007)
Chevaux Arabes (Haras de Sa Majeste le Roi – Hassan II Bouznika) – Designed by Hugo Grygkar in 1951 and specially issued in 1994 to celebrate the inauguration of the Royal Stud Farm, the World Famous Stud Farm in Morocco.
Envol – Designed by Joachim Metz in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. This design was issued as a “regular” scarf a year later and lacks the special UN tribute in the banner. More about this design in a previous blog post.
Not an “official” title or category, but more of a collectively recognized level of desirability and/or rarity. It is true that by the very own definition, a Special Issue and/or a Limited Edition might be a GRAIL scarf, neither, however, is necessarily a prerequisite.
This for example, is the case with both the (Les) Toits de Paris issues designed by father and son. Both scarves are considered GRAIL; the early design for being extremely rare and the second for its rarity, being highly coveted and a much loved design.
Please keep in mind that this category is rather subjective.
It should also be noted that many times a Special Issue will also be a Limited Edition in that only a certain number of scarves were produced making that particular issue/design especially sought after among collectors.
Musee Schlumpf (Tuef-Teuf) designed by Philippe Ledoux in 1971 is an excellent example of exactly such a design as it is both a Limited Edition and a Special Issue design as only 1,475 scarves were ever issued. More in a previous blog post.
Other notable and exceptional designs that the Fashion House has added in recent years such as the double face Pani La Shar Pawnee (Double-face) for example and the Dip Dey versions that were introduced in 2009 should also be mentioned.
In closing, I would also like to say that labels such as rare, limited and special have at times been used perhaps mistakenly, and I am as “guilty” of that as anyone. This is many times simply due to either my lack of information available at the time or personal exuberance I “feel” for a special design. So I must apologize … I do have my favorites!
I would like to make a special note and express my profound gratitude for the incredible work of Genevieve Fontan, the author of the indispensable Carrés d’Art collection, who has enriched us with her vast knowledge and expertise! Merci beaucoup!
I thank you for reading my post as I hope it has provided more clarity on this subject matter.
Please feel free to comment should you wish to add to my ongoing learning and work in progress …
and without the special inscription below