My first glimpse of the new offerings from Agent Provocateur nearly gave me a seizure. AP’s racy gear often has that effect on people, but this time it was for a completely unexpected reason.
In the promo material accompanying the launch of their Autumn-Winter 2011-12 collection, the trailblazing erotic label says the new line “marks the return to ladylike dressing” with printed silks, embroidery and other stylistic flourishes.
Agent Provocateur …. “ladylike”? Can this really be happening?
Sure enough, the new Francoise range in the photo above offers the kind of sophisticated look you might expect from one of the finer French brands. In two-tone Chantilly lace with contrasting candy pink bows, it’s pure, sweet coquetry — not exactly how AP made its name.
But that’s just part of AP’s latest tease. Look deeper into the new collection, and the demure French-influenced styles give way to a few heat-seeking missiles that you wouldn’t show your mother.
That’s the bold Maggie playsuit in the first photo, followed by the Mariett ensemble with its barely-there babydoll in delicately embroidered tulle.
Agent Provocateur is clearly expanding its base with this bait-and-switch collection. Retro looks offset by ultra-contemporary styles (like Margot‘s contour-hugging bandage wrapping) and, more significantly, classical foundation pieces competing with the kind of scorching boudoir looks that made AP the enfant terrible of the lingerie game.
Now, what’s so “ladylike” about all this?
AP’s idea of a “lady” is not someone who’s too repressed or too modest to display her assets. There are some elegant vintage looks in this collection that conjure up earlier versions of sexualized femininity, but there’s no suggestion that AP is leading us back to a world of bloomers and petticoats.
In their own clever way, AP is doing what they’ve always done: redefining what it means to be a “lady” in the 21st Century.
Below are a few more styles from the new collection. We’ll have an update on Agent Provocateur’s fall line as more styles become available.