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?
I first caught a glimpse of this head-turning print from Zinke‘s debut swim collection at a trade show last summer and, as JLo would say, got instant goosies.
Bright, busy and colorful, Zinke’s chevron pattern is a magnet for eyeballs; I was probably 50 feet away when I spotted it on a rack crowded with other Z-goodies.
I had two questions: where did it come from, and would women (especially American women) go for something so startlingly showy?
Well, let’s put that second one to rest first. Zinke‘s chevron is the coolest (and hottest) print of the summer, and not just for the beach crowd. It’s selling like crazy and some styles are disappearing fast.
The reason for its instant success? The NYC indie label was smart enough to use the print on a number of casualwear pieces suitable for a variety of occasions and locations. By the end of summer 2012, you will have likely seen this everywhere.
In addition to one-piece and bikini swimsuits, variations of the print are featured in the Port cover-up/dress, the Saturdays sleeveless dress and the adorable Daytripper romper available at Anthropologie. And the colorways come in a few variations that emphasize one of the several competing hues in the print’s palette — go for the lobster red for a bold statement, or the powdery blue or popsicle pink for something softer.
Where it comes from is another, less obvious, question. It’s not like other isometric chevron prints (widely seen in apparel and lingerie fashions this year), but it has some familiar echoes.
Although Zinke likely didn’t mean it, this print immediately reminded me of early-century stained glass, when multi-colored chevron panels were used oh-so-sparingly as accents (right).
But that’s just one of many reference points here.
Zinke’s approach to chevrons is a hypnotic mashup of art deco color strips, Missoni-esque zig-zags and even a bit of geeky fractals. You can see a hint of Frank Lloyd Wright in there, but the distressed edging on the color strips is purely post-modern. I would suggest they hang this in MoMA, but I’m afraid it would trigger seizures.
For her part, designer Jessie Zinke offers a simpler explanation: “I wanted to do a print that was modern and graphic but nothing too symmetrical,” she said. “If a pattern is too perfect, I tend to get a little bored with it.”
Zinke likes to take inspiration from real Americana, and the swim collection is no different from their lingerie collections in that respect. The styles (especially the flounce bikini top) are meant to evoke 60s California while the creamy palette “has a bit of a Palm Springs feel to it.”
Here’s a look at how Zinke has put its groovy chevron pattern to use in this collection. The range is reportedly flying off the shelves and some styles are no longer available on the Zinke webshop, so check with their retail partners.
The color of the sky and sea, both calming and energizing, blue symbolizes trust, confidence, intelligence and truth. This season, blue is everywhere to be found and lingerie is no exception.
Here are few of our favorite shades, patterns and silhouettes in blue lingerie foundations from this spring’s collections: (more…)
Leave it to Made By Niki to take an increasingly familiar trend and turn it on its head.
With its latest capsule collection, the award-winning UK label offers a new spin on trendy bandage-wrapping — a look that’s become increasingly common in everything from lingerie to couture fashion collections since Bordelle pioneered the faux bondage style a few years ago.
Niki’s Atomic Lace set makes use of layered stretch lace strips and modern control fabrics to turn the dramatic bandage look into a shapewear product — no easy feat, given the amount of flesh that remains exposed.
It’s also the kind of innovation we’ve come to expect from designer Niki McMorrough and her team, who consistently strive to bridge the gap between functional sculpting pieces and high-fashion looks. For a good example, check out the Atomic Lace sheer micro-girdle above: in addition to being a sculpting undergarment, Made By Niki suggests wearing it as an ultra mini-skirt. Go ahead, we dare you.
Atomic Lace is actually the third (and last) set in Niki’s diverse spring collection. Earlier, the label introduced Atomic I, a new set of fringe-based fashion pieces that build on last year’s winning String collection; and the mesh-based Atomic II set of bras and knickers with lots of trendy cutouts and straps.
The Atomic Lace group includes a versatile new molded plunge bra, a sheer underwire bra, a couple of peephole knicker styles, and the distinctive corselette seen in the top photo. It’s all lightweight, available in a peachy neutral and sugary soft brown colorways, and slightly less pricey than some of Niki’s earlier collections.
Here’s a couple more looks. You can learn more at the company’s webshop.
A wide variety of lingerie ensembles ranging from couture labels like Carine Gilson to mass-market brands like Guess get a wonderful showcase in this delicious photo spread from the current issue of Elle France.
Bathed in midday sunlight, waifish Irish model Laragh McCann wears mix-and-match groupings from Etam, Eres, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Aubade and other (mostly French) brands, with hosiery from Dim, Falke, Cervin and Wolford.
Photographer Gemma Booth gives the shoot a distinctly vintage feel with the use of antique furnishings in what appears to be a country manor house.
If this doesn’t get you dreaming about upgrading your summer lingerie wardrobe, nothing will!