Agent Provocateur (AP), makers of fashion’s fiercest unmentionables for the last 19 years, is launching its first-ever diffusion line, L’Agent, in collaboration with Spanish ingenues Penélope and Mónica Cruz.
L’Agent embodies the seductiveness of AP’s core aesthetic, yet it’s designed with a comfortable, everyday approach to intimate apparel in terms of shapes, cuts and colors.
Leading AP’s legacy in lingerie is the brand’s creative director, Sarah Shotton, whom we phoned in London to get the lacy details on the collection, which is available online and in Nordstrom stores starting today.
Bound for Britain: Last summer, Penélope and Mónica camped out with Sarah at the London-based studio of AP to conceive and design the L’Agent collection
THE THREAD: Tell us how the partnership with the Cruz sisters got started!
SARAH SHOTTON: It began with a conversation on set. Mónica modeled for the AP fall/winter 2012 collection, and while she was getting her hair and makeup done for the shoot, we got to chatting. She mentioned that she and Penélope have been buying and collecting AP for about 15 or 16 years, if not more. Mónica said, “We love what you do. We love the brand. We love all the lingerie.” She just said that she and her sister really wanted to design lingerie and would love to work on a collaboration with us. At the time, Gary Hogarth, AP’s CEO, and I had already been discussing producing a wholesale line. So it was perfect timing and very organic. They adore the brand, and we adore them.
Lovely in Lingerie: Mónica Cruz was hand-picked by Sarah to model for AP’s fall/winter 2012 collection
THE THREAD: How involved were the Cruz sisters in designing the collection?
SARAH: We shot Mónica in April of 2012, and since then, we have been working closely together. This is not a collaboration where somebody else designs it and they just put their name on it. Penélope and Mónica have been actively involved in the creation of this line and have spent a fair share of time with me in London, conceiving ideas and looking through our archives.
We were three girls working together, having a giggle and designing what we want women to wear. It’s been really sweet because I was pregnant at the time, and then Mónica became pregnant, and then Penélope became pregnant. At one point, we were all pregnant. I had my “King George” nine months ago.
Sister, Sister: Penélope and Mónica have previously collaborated with two Spanish brands: Loewe, on a handbag line, and MANGO, on several clothing collections (photo by Mert and Marcus)
THE THREAD: L’Agent features 15 styles that range from bra and brief sets to basques and babydolls. How hard was it to narrow down the selection?
SARAH: It was really hard! We knew from the start that this would be an ongoing partnership [expected to last at least five years], so for some styles, we were like “That’s great for next season or the season after that.” I suppose for this launch collection, we had to design something that would have mass appeal. I think when you watch the campaign video that Penélope directed, you’ll see lots of different types of women, personalities and lifestyles, who are wearing lots of different types of lingerie.
Practical Panties: The Cruz sisters set out to design a range of lingerie that women could wear every day, and they gave each piece a Spanish woman’s name. Clockwise: ‘Isi’ Quarter Cup Bra & Low Rise Thong, ‘Zanita’ Bra & Thong and ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra, Waspie & Brief
THE THREAD: How important is lingerie for the fashion-conscious woman?
SARAH: Lingerie is really important to women worldwide. It’s unbelievable, the trends in lingerie right now. When I started with AP 14 years ago, women were still a bit afraid of edgy, out-there lingerie, but not anymore. It’s almost like in the ’40s and ’50s. Women wore great lingerie because their dresses wouldn’t fit properly if they didn’t. Women who wanted a tiny waist and a pointy chest would wear underwear that created that effect.
I think the modern woman now knows that it’s important to have lingerie for different occasions and for different outfits. We all know it’s really important that, if you’re going to play sports, you wear a sports bra. I think we are more aware of creating a lingerie wardrobe today, especially after the book 50 Shades of Grey (which mentions the brand).
In the Director’s Chair: To celebrate the launch of L’Agent, Penélope makes her directorial debut in a film starring her husband, Javier Bardem (center), model Irina Shayk, and her sister Mónica, who was pregnant at the time
THE THREAD: What inspired Penélope to direct the campaign video?
SARAH: The video is something that Penélope really wanted to do. She was like “I haven’t directed anything before. I really want to direct my first piece for the L’Agent launch.” Penélope had an idea of a party, and I think she’d been dreaming about it for ages. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. She was literally outlining the direction of the film non-stop—and pregnant at the same time! A lot of her friends and family were involved. It’s a very special piece with a funny little message at the end.
Spanish Style: The Madrid-born design duo wanted the collection to have an alluring Spanish point of view. L to R: ‘Rosalyn’ Quarter Cup Bra & Thong, ‘Mónica’ Bra & Tanga & ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra
THE THREAD: Music and film have been cited as outlets for your design inspiration. Were there any films or characters played by Penélope that you felt came alive in the collection?
SARAH: It’s funny, because when we were working on this collection, they wanted the line to have a very Spanish feel, even in the colors they were thinking of—like red flamenco. Obviously, I love Penélope. She’s such a great actress and has played so many different types of characters. I would say there’s a lot of Volver in the line. She’s very sexy and voluptuous in that film, which is very L’Agent. There are also some aspects of her fiery character in the film Blow with Johnny Depp. She had a really strong attitude in that movie, and you can feel that in the bold and sassy pieces of the line.
Enchant. Entice. Empower. Transform in L’Agent.