Agent Provocateur lives up to its name with lingerie that’s breaking down even staid Britain’s barriers.
Success isn’t softening Agent Provocateur. If anything, the U.K.-based purveyor of high-end lacy, racy knickers and Swarovski-studded handcuffs aggressively lives up to its name. In the eight years since Joseph Corre and Serena Rees launched their firm with a boutique in London’s Soho neighborhood, they have set out to provoke the public, the media, their retailing neighbors and the innerwear industry.
While it hasn’t hurt having famous fans — Madonna being one — it’s AP’s erotically charged imagery that has helped fuel copious column inches in the British press. Delivering chic with a wink and a nudge, the images fill hardbound catalog books and traffic-stopping window displays. The whiff of scandal surrounding the company intensified last winter, when the London and Sydney tabloids reported on an alleged ban in Great Britain of a TV spot starring pop singer Kylie Minogue, clad head-to-toe in AP and riding a velvet mechanical bull. Forget that TV is outside the budget of a company of AP’s size. (Rees declined to provide sales volumes for AP’s three subsidiaries: Agent Provocateur Ltd., the original label comprising lingerie and accessories; Agent Provocateur Inc., its American wing, and Agent Provocateur Parfum.) Or that the ad actually saw a restricted run in London-area cinemas, playing only to 17-and-up crowds. The rumor scored headlines.
And those headlines, of course, fueled sales. Now, Corre and Rees, who married two years ago, are marveling over business at their newest store, in The City,London’s luxury-shop-heavy financial district. "We’re already taking in more than the other two London shops [in Soho and Knightsbridge], and it’s a tiny jewel box of a store," muses Rees. Corre estimates the door will take in an average of $3,750 per square foot annually, compared with the $1,500 at the other units.
Two years ago, AP opened its only store outside London, on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The firm is setting up shop in New York, too. An in-store boutique opens in Henri Bendel in September and later this fall in SoHo. The Bendel boutique marks the first time the accessories and mostly French-made lingerie will be carried outside the company’s signature stores and Web site, the latter generating a quarter of the company’s business."We don’t have any intention of having a store on every high street. But there’s room for more AP stores worldwide," says Corre, who no doubt picked up a thing or two from his parents, punk icon Malcolm McLaren and designer Vivienne Westwood, who was responsible for the saucy pink uniforms AP saleswomen wear with black fishnets and maribou mules.
Indeed, the company has already targeted the masses with a line sold at British department-store stalwart Marks & Spencer, under the name "Salon Rose." (Ironically enough, one early AP ad boasted "more S&M, less M&S.") The line, which Corre says turns some $20 million in annual sales, features a range of panties and bras in silks and levered lace. "Salon Rose" strays from M&S’s typically staid fare, with skimpier cuts and flashier hues, like turquoise, fuchsia and salmon. Prices are a good 50 percent above comparable items from Marks & Spencer’s own house label. But then again, that’s a bargain by AP standards.
The line’s bits of lace and silk don’t come cheap: Bras retail from $55 to $230, panties from $30 to $195. Precieux, the house line of jeweled crops and other baubles, runs from $46 to $700. For fall, the signature fragrance, which bowed in 2000 and reportedly has annual retail sales exceeding $5 million through just under 1,000 doors globally, will expand to "Bubble Luscious" for bath ($39 for 400 ml) and into new scents, via votive candles with names such as "Strip" and "Tease" ($39 or $59 for a set of six).
Says Rees, "We’re just at that time where we’re set to really go."
Donatella Versace will receive the International Award at the 2018 @cfda awards, which were announced tonight. Tap link in bio for a list of all the nominees and honorees. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @rahirezvanistudio )
The 2018 @cfda Awards nominees are out! @virgilabloh for @off____white for is nominated for Womenswear Designer of the Year. Tap link in bio for all the nominees. #wwdnews #wwdfashion ( 📷: @simonelezzi)
@chanelofficial is suing high-end vintage retailer @whatgoesaroundnyc for trademark infringement, a move that could cost the retailer millions. The French fashion house claims that it’s not only unintentionally sold counterfeit goods on occasion, but that it’s “gone out of its way to create an association with Chanel,” which does not exist. Read Chanel’s statement on WWD.com #wwdnews (@aitorrosasphoto)
Exclusive: Guillaume Henry has left @ninaricci, the fashion house said on Thursday. “After three years of mutually gratifying creative collaboration, Nina Ricci and Guillaume Henry have together decided that the designer will depart the house after the presentation of the fall-winter 2018-19 collection,” Ricci said in a statement. Get all the details on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“When Bella enters a room all heads turn,” said @peterphilipsmakeup, creative and image director for @diormakeup. Last night, the two celebrated the product launch of Dior’s Lacquer Plump in Los Angeles with other celebs like @parisjackson, @winnieharlow and more. Head to WWD.com to see the rest of the photos from the night (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
“These shirts are an art form, it’s about getting the message out to as many people as you can. It breaks down the pretentiousness of the art gallery,” says Kumasi Sadiki, cofounder of @ebayontheblock, a store that sells merchandise by New York artists who are shifting their attention to clothes as a wearable medium. Pictured here is a design by artist @joegarvey_, one of the first to spearhead this movement. Head to WWD.com to read @mistywhitesidell full story on how their designs have become merch for the underground elite #wwdfashion
@netaporter is dedicating a part of its website – called the Fine Jewelry and Watch Destination – to highlight its high-end jewelry. The hub will feature products on the site, as well as incorporate styling advice and educational content about high-priced jewelry items. Get more details on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories
For “The Cher Show,” an upcoming musical based on @cher’s life and career, @bobmackie is once again collaborating with the singer in designing the costumes. For decades, Mackie has designed glitzy stage costumes and red carpet looks for the 71-year-old Grammy winner. Pictured here is a sketch of some of the pieces in the wardrobe of the musical, which is set to debut in Chicago on June 12 before making its way to Broadway #wwdeye