That sound you hear today is the applause from runway models, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers, lighting directors and anyone else around the world who has ever worked on a fashion show … and who just viewed Agent Provocateur‘s newest video called Control Yourself.
In fact, the only ones who won’t be cheering are other fashion designers.
Control Yourself is a riotous 3½-minute fashion industry sendup in which a sadistic designer finally gets his comeuppance when his tortured models tear off his ridiculous outfits just before the curtain rises, and hit the runway in nothing more than this season’s sexy AP lingerie ensembles.
Any model who has ever been badgered and belittled, denied food, had their hair yanked, been stuffed into outfits two sizes too small, and propped up on impossibly high heels before being shoved out onto a catwalk will recognize the suffering endured by AP’s girls.
Control Yourself stars actress Melissa George and models Elettra Wiedermann and Chloe Hayward as three beleaguered models who are “pushed, pulled, trussed up and put down” backstage until they “realize that true control belongs to them,” according AP’s own scenario.
It’s a little unclear how ditching your clothes and walking around in underwear is a way for girls to “take control of their own destinies,” as AP puts it, but no matter. This is the most playful and entertaining film from the big UK brand since Kylie did her thing on that mechanical bull.
Control Yourself is loaded with homoerotic subtext and packed with visual jokes that lampoon fashion industry conventions.
And that shouldn’t be a surprise since it is directed by John Cameron Mitchell, the trailblazing filmmaker and gay activist best known for Shortbus and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
And, like everything else he’s done, this project will raise eyebrows for its handling of sexual stereotypes. Mitchell takes as his starting point the wonderful fashion-centric 1992 George Michael video Too Funky, but that’s where the similarities end, since GM played it hetero in that outing.
In contrast, the egomaniacal designer (played by Simon Paisley Day) in Control Yourself is a mincing narcissist who appears repulsed by the sight of women in their undies, while the three female leads suggestively turn their attentions to each other once the clothes come off.
There’s a certain risk in all this for Agent Provocateur, since there are plenty of humorless designers, stylists and CDs out there who will see themselves being mocked in Control Yourself. And it’s worth remembering that AP, as much as any lingerie brand on the planet, owes a lot of its success to the support and collaboration its received from the broader fashion industry over the past two decades — including many appearances in runway shows for other designers.
In their defence, though, AP can always argue that Control Yourself is purely satire, all in good fun, just a lark for everyone before the madness of Fashion Week returns. Even if we all know it’s true.
Here’s the video: