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Much of the chatter around this week’s online release of Agent Provocateur‘s Soiree collection has focused on two things: the sky-high prices, and the sexy-zombie video that promotes the new collection. All of this is quite distracting, so let’s take a step back and clear the air on what Soiree is really all about:

What’s New?: Not much, really. AP launched Soiree nearly two years ago as a limited collection available only in a few of its stores. This week, most of the collection moved online for the first time — which is a somewhat risky proposition for both AP and its customers, given the price tags involved.

What’s It Cost?: There are 10 style ranges in Soiree, and if you were to purchase one of every piece available online, it would cost you $21,650. The most costly are the beaded Inga playsuit ($3,120) and the breathtaking Celeste gown shown above ($2,555).

What’s Missing?: What you can’t buy online, and what everyone is talking about, is the $24,000 crystal-and-tassels playsuit that you can see here, at the end of AP’s Fleurs du Mal video. Apparently, you can only see/buy it from Harrods in London. Airfare not included in the price.

What About The Video?: The short film Fleurs du Mal has taken on a life (pardon the pun) of its own, with more than 250,000 viewings on Vimeo alone since its launch two weeks ago and untold more on AP’s main site. Everything worn by the zombie girls in the film is from Soiree. User comments are mostly effusive, but it remains to be seen how explicit soft-core lingerie commercials can be before they start getting tripped up by censors. As one viewer on Vimeo commented: “Why bother with this over-art-directed stuff when there’s piles of perfectly good porn on the internet?”

Why Is This A ‘Premium’ Collection?: There’s a fair amount of bling in Soiree but, with the exception of the crystal playsuit, there’s not enough added value or expense here to justify the label. AP really only creates “premium” lingerie sets; and the prices in Soiree are not significantly higher than those in AP’s most recent AW 2011-12 collection. So the label seems a bit redundant — sort of like buying a “high-end” Rolls-Royce.

Is It Worth It?: When you pay AP’s couture prices, you’re helping to pay for their opulent boutiques and blue-chip marketing too. But don’t be blinded or deterred by the price tag: this is gift-worthy fashion, and the look on your loved one’s face when she opens her AP gift box will be, as they say, priceless.

Bottom Line: With Soiree and its recent fall collection, Agent Provocateur pushes boundaries in so many different directions it’s hard to keep up. It’s a remarkable collection with some items that will take your (and his) breath away: the Celeste gown, the multi-zippered Clarice range, and the incredible cabaret-inspired pleated Faye trousers. And for sheer craftsmanship, the midnight blue Gene range boggles the mind: with guipure embroidery and stretch silk satin working together as a corset, this is shapewear for the gods.

Take time to savor each style range, understand how each piece works and the interesting fashion and historical references that have gone into each set. Below are the main campaign images from Soiree, with the pieces (and those price tags!) included.

MADALYN
Leopard print silk jacquard. Bra, $395; Suspender, $395; Brief, $395

INGA
Beaded playsuit, $3,120

GENE
Guipure lace on silk satin. Corset, $1,520; Bra, $475; Brief, $475; Thong, $315

FAYE
Pleated trousers with leather waistband, $995

ELSA
Chantilly lace with Swarovski crystals. Bra, $635; Suspender Ouvert, $680

DAVIS
Italian gingham tulle with lace and black satin. Bra, $395; Brief, $185;
Suspender, $280; Thong, $155

COSIMA
Napa leather, crystal chains, golden zippers. Body corset, $2,395; Bra, $635;
Waspie, $680; Thong, $395; Corset Brief, $1,115

CLARICE
Satin with golden zippers. Bra, $395; Waspie, $635; Brief, $315; Thong, $200

CELESTE
Coral silk chiffon with red Leavers lace. Gown, $2,555; Slip, $1,915
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