In 1994 Agent Provocateur was founded by the son of punk impresario Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood’s, Joe Joseph Corré, in partnership with his now ex-wife Serena Rees.
With bloodlines like those Joe’s brainchild was always going to turn heads. Their first flagship store opened its doors in London’s Soho on Broadwick Street. Their initial intention was to sell various brands of provocative, colourful and fashionable lingerie. After failing to source their merchandise from other brands, they decided to create their own line and started designing and manufacturing their own eponymous collections.
In 2000 the brand released its first signature fragrance, named after the label itself “Agent Provocateur”. Since then the range has expanded with more fragrances, as well as a selection of beauty products and cosmetics.
Since the very beginning, Agent Provocateur was noted for its controversial, shocking advertising and marketing strategies, causing exceptional, as well as overwhelming responses. Corré and Rees mainly established the brand through an almost punkesque communication strategy, using their shop window, outdoor advertising, cinema advertising, catalogues and events, which would soon be the talk of the media worldwide.
For one of their famous campaigns, the brand cast British supermarket check-out girls only for making them the campaign’s models. In December 2001, the company produced a short film featuring ‘the most loved girl in England’, Australia’s own pop and soap star Kylie Minogue, riding a bucking bronco. Kylie wore a cowboy hat and the tiniest of their erotic pieces. As she rode, she appeared to grind herself to an orgasm on the bull. The film was eventually banned everywhere and caused a big hype and controversy, giving AP a lot of both, good and bad recognition within the media.
Besides Kylie Minogue, Agent Provocateur hired stars, such as supermodel Kate Moss in 2006 or Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal (who was infamous for her role in the cult BDSM kink flick ‘The Secretary’) for their 2007 campaign.
After Corrés and Rees’ divorce in 2007, the brand was purchased by the private equity firm “3i” for 60 million Pounds. Following the takeover, the company experienced a huge growth, expanding into 13 countries with over 30 stores. Currently, the brand sells its provocative underwear in over 65 countries.
The label’s new creative director, Sarah Shotton pursued the brand’s provocative storyline with the film “Control Yourself,” starring Penelope Cruz and directed by American actor, writer and director John Cameron Mitchell. The short film was a humorous take on three models being pried and pulled backstage at a runway show, asserting themselves in the lingerie brand’s sexy wares. The film included stars like Melissa George, Elettra Wiedmann and Chloe Hayward, showcasing their hard-edged attitude in their couture curves. The film empowered women to take over control and seduce their targets, showing their sexuality without any kind of restraint.
Through the combination of lacy fabrics and non-traditional, dramatic shapes, Sarah Shotton has continued the story of one of the most provocative and erotic lingerie brands. Agent Provocateur created this personal, sexy image and experience for its customers, raising a trend that would adhere usual lingerie advertisements. No other underwear brand to date has created such a compelling luxury lingerie brand with its core instincts as to what really is genuinely erotic.
Agent Provocateur’s entire story can be found in Fashion Industry Broadcast’s Masters of Fashion Vol. 40 “Lingerie,” alongside many other infamous lingerie brands. The book is available on Amazon.