What is Agent Provocateur?
Agent Provocateur is a premium and ultra-luxury lingerie retailer with both physical retail locations and an online store. Founded in 1994 by the son of Vivienne Westwood, Joseph Corre and his wife at the time, Serena Rees, the brand originated in London with its flagship retail location in SoHo on Broadwick street.
The History & Evolution of Agent Provocateur
Joseph Corré’s original Agent Provocateur location sold colorful and fashionable lingerie. Over time the focus became more on high-end luxury offerings. The brand quickly set itself apart from other high production brands. They became known for quality materials, original designs, and their racy marketing campaigns.
Thirteen years after launching their first retail location in the fashionable Soho district of London the company would begin to see explosive growth. This was spurred by Joseph’s divorce from his long-time wife & business partner Serena Rees. Following the divorce, 80% of Agent Provocateur was purchased by a private equity firm 3i. This acquisition for £60 million allowed for a more rapid expansion of the brand.
Between the years of 2007 and 2009, the company opened 13 stores in a number of countries. Their 52 retail locations can now be found in 13 countries including the United States, Italy, Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, and more. In 2017 with profits decreasing, it was purchased during administration by Four Holdings. The brand still maintains its retail presence as well as an industry-leading online store.
Controversy & Marketing
The brand became known for pushing the boundaries of media censorship laws. Their print and video ads have featured models and entertainment figures such as Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daisy Lowe, Hailey Clauson, and more. In 2019 the brand hired its first plus-size model, Charli Howard. She was the star of their annual Valentine’s campaign, this one entitled “A Love Letter to Myself.”
Their advertising has been banned in a number of countries due to its risque nature. In 2001 Agent Provocateur released a short film with Kylie Minogue in the brand’s lingerie. She rode a velvet bucking bronco which many found too sexually explicit. The Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom has also taken issue with several different ads. The ASA has banned several Agent Provocateur campaigns for being “degrading to women.”
Agent Provocateur & Related Fetishes
While the company does not explicitly target the BDSM community it’s creations do serve many fetishes. Their goods can be purchased for use in stocking and nylon fetish play. Agent Provocateur has at times sold accessories and toys such as riding crops and feather wands for use in impact & sensory play.
Online Store: https://www.agentprovocateur.com