Agent Provocateur has become such a fixture in the high-fashion mainstream that it’s easy to forget the lingerie superbrand was literally a child of the 1970s British punk-rock movement, the fashion sensibility that grew out of it and the social anarchy that enveloped it.
Founded in 1994 by Joe Corré with help from his parents, the new wave icons Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Agent Provocateur’s daringly erotic stylings were very outré for their time, challenging tastes and morality in much the same way that pierced flesh and shredded T-shirts did when Joe’s pa was peddling the Sex Pistols and his ma was turning the world onto goth fashion.
But my oh my, haven’t we all grown up a lot since then? These days, there’s no cultural currency in being a Sid Vicious-like nihilist, no excuse for being poorly dressed, and nothing more empowering than high street glitter and glam.
You’ll find no better dramatization of that reality than in Agent Provocateur‘s brand new video, The Chase, in which a half-dressed supermodel outruns and outmuscles a young street punk who steals an old lady’s purse.
When she finally tackles him, you half-expect her to gob in his face. But this is 2012, not 1976, so instead she simply shouts: “You’re going down!”
Those are the only words in the film and they have the declarative force of a political manifesto — one that reasserts a proper social paradigm in which gutless young hooligans get put in their place and stylish hotties who can afford expensive undies rule.
AP’s videos are always richly symbolic and layered with meaning and this one is no different; it shares the kind of obvious female-empowerment message that many lingerie brands have used in the past few years, but it goes deeper than that.
The thief in ‘The Chase‘ leads his pursuer on a sprint through middle-class London, at one point barging into someone’s well-appointed flat and making a mess of things. He’s an intruder, an interloper, a bug in the social order who must be caught and punished — a far cry from the anti-hero he might have been 30 years ago.
For what it’s worth, ‘The Chase‘ was produced to help promote AP’s Classics range, in particular the strappy black lace Margot collection (above) that the model is wearing, and their new slogan: “Sexy never takes a day off.” This isn’t just lingerie, it’s a superhero costume for a new generation.
Now, would someone please ask John Lydon what he thinks of all this?