If you’re looking for the biggest growth segment in fashion lingerie today, you have to look up, wa-a-a-y up, into the retail stratosphere where the sugar daddies shop.
Ultra-glamorous, ultra-premium lingerie is hot again, as recession-weary big spenders get reacquainted with the idea of splurging.
(A recent market report showed U.S. lingerie sales shrank during the past five years, but predicted a 3% bounceback in growth for 2012, driven by high-end garments. And retail analysts have often looked to changes in lingerie spending as an early indicator of economic recovery.)
This is cold comfort to the 99% of consumers who can’t afford a $500 bra, but it’s fantastic news for retail boutiques and the thousands of people employed by the industry that supplies them. And as we all drag our sorry carcasses out of the fiscal swamp of the past five years, it’s good to be reminded that lingerie is not just something that comes in three-packs.
No one knows this better than erotic superbrand Agent Provocateur — always a high-end label, but one that started zeroing in on the upper reaches of the gold-card market a couple of years ago.
The result was Soiree, a “premium” collection of lingerie and playful costumery that grew out of the bespoke and elaborate one-off creations that AP made available at a handful of its stores. A full Soiree collection was finally offered to the public last fall and, while there’s no way of knowing how many pieces actually sold, it earned an ecstatic response.
Now, AP is back with a second, breathtaking Soiree collection that’s even more exquisite (and more expensive) than the first. If you can get past the sticker shock, you’ll see this for what it is: the Lamborghini of lingerie. Underwear as status symbol.
There are 10 new style ranges in the new Soiree set, plus a couple of additions to looks from last fall’s collection. It’s all ridiculously glamorous and erotic, and filled with design references from screen icons, burlesque and even Vegas showgirl costumes.
The best representation of what Soiree is all about can be seen in the two images above: the Xanthe playsuit (top) and the strappy Constance ensemble.
Xanthe, which was originally exclusive to AP’s Rodeo Drive store, is a barely-there filigree of delicate chains held in place by soft knit straps. Inspired by the film Blade Runner, this look will set him back $2,990.
Constance, meanwhile, is an ultra-glam range made from Italian gold lamé embellished with antique beads. Based on a piece created for the opening of AP’s Madison Avenue showroom, Constance includes a bra, thong and waspie, all for around $2,800.
These are pieces that are not just brazenly erotic, they also frame the female torso in a way that commands attention and appreciation.
As with all Agent Provocateur collections, the new Soiree set includes quite a variety of looks that suit different occasions, personalities and degrees of modesty.
The flirty Zsa Zsa range, all Leavers lace and copper Swarovski crystals, was inspired by Mata Hari and is the most openly seductive set in the collection — although you decide if it’s worth $990 for the Zsa Zsa ouvert (above), a high-waisted open-crotched brief.
And for sheer artistic glory, you’ll enjoy the ivory Gene ensemble, the gold lace Gardinia range or the exceptional Laureen — a sculpted corset and skirt set meant to work together. It’s crafted from black corded lace and wet-look satin to create a shimmering effect and, to my eyes, looks like it sprang from the mind of Alexander McQueen.
Below are some more styles from the new AP Soiree range. And just remember: if he has to ask the price, then he probably can’t afford you.