LONDON — Agent Provocateur is breaking into the wholesale market with the launch of L’Agent, its first diffusion line, which has been designed in collaboration with sisters Penélope and Mónica Cruz.
L’Agent will be a stand-alone collection with its own design team — under the supervision of the brand’s creative director, Sarah Shotton — and be sold through retailers worldwide. It will not be stocked in Agent Provocateur stores or on the brand’s Web site.
The new collection will feature 15 styles, each with seven or eight pieces such as bras, briefs, thongs and corsets. The average price will be 40 pounds, or $64, and the collection will make its debut worldwide on Aug. 1.
By comparison, the average price at Agent Provocateur is 95 pounds, or $152. All figures have been calculated at current exchange rates.
Garry Hogarth, the brand’s chief executive officer, said in an exclusive interview with WWD that a diffusion line had been on managers’ minds for a while, and that Mónica Cruz, who appears in Agent Provocateur’s latest campaign, was enthusiastic about creating a line that would reach a wider audience.
Cruz, an actress and dancer, then pulled her actress sister into the project. In the past, the sisters have fronted and designed collections for Mango and Samantha Thavasa.
“It’s a proper design collaboration. They’ve been bringing in swatches and old vintage pieces and working with the design team,” said Hogarth, adding the Cruz siblings have worked on “every aspect” of the new collection, including the design of labels, hangtags, and hangers.
The sisters will also be involved with the visual campaigns for the new collections, although those details have not been nailed down.
“It is so exciting for me and Mónica to embark on this new adventure,” said Penélope Cruz. “We have always been huge fans of Agent Provocateur and both of us are very much looking forward to this long-term collaboration. We feel extremely happy to become part of this great team.”
Hogarth said the collaboration will last a minimum of five years. “It’s a long-term partnership with an option to extend,” he said. “They told us they really wanted to be part of the Agent Provocateur family. For us, everything just felt right.”
Hogarth said he’s looking to target three or four retailers in major markets, including Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Barneys New York in the U.S.; Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis in the U.K., and other stores including La Rinascente, Galeries Lafayette and Lane Crawford.
Within five years, L’Agent is set to generate 50 percent of the company’s revenue, which is currently 40 million pounds, or $64 million. Hogarth said this year organic sales are up 8 percent, while overall sales have climbed 18 percent so far.
Agent Provocateur sells exclusively through its Web site and its own shops, which will number 72 by the end of the company’s fiscal year in March. Twelve more stores are in the pipeline for the year beginning April 1.
Hogarth characterized the diffusion line as “a little younger, and perhaps less sophisticated” than the main line, but very wearable, very sexy and with the handwriting of Agent Provocateur.”
He said the designers of the main line are “not involved” with the new project, with the exception of Shotton. He said the new team consists of one new hire and former members of the core team.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast