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Agent Provocateur is a British lingerie retailer founded in 1994 by Joseph Corré and Serena Rees. The first shop was opened on London's Broadwick Street in the Soho district in 1994. Since then, the company has opened 30 stores in 13 countries across the globe. In 2007, Agent Provocateur was purchased by the private equity house 3i for £60m.
Agent Provocateur was founded by Joseph Corré, the son of Vivienne Westwood, and his now ex-wife Serena Rees in 1994. The first store was opened in Soho with aims of selling high-end lingerie.
Rees--tired of seeing women dress in drab under garments--came up with an idea to start a lingerie store that was filled with colorful and fashion-forward lingerie. The couple initially set out to sell the best lingerie from around the world. After not finding enough of what they liked, the couple decided to create their own brand.
Rees, along with Corre, developed a strict confidentiality agreement to protect their clientele. The brand since its inception has been widely received by the celebrity community as a result use celebrity models for most of their advertising campaigns.
After Corre's and Ree's divorce in 2007, Agent Provocateur was purchased by the private equity house 3i for £60m. The company is currently run by Garry Hogarth.
Following the takeover, the company expanded into 13 countries with over 30 stores. By March 2008, Agent Provocateur's profits dropped 18pc to £2.2m because of the cost of expansion.
The company is known for producing controversial adverts, such as those released in December 2001 featuring pop singer Kylie Minogue. The advert, which was shown only in cinemas, pushed the envelope on sexual innuendo in advertising media and demonstrated the power of internet based viral marketing.
Lingerie by Agent Provocateur has become popular with celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Fern Britton, and Carmen Electra, and the company often features high profile celebrities to promote its fashion campaigns. In previous years these have included Kylie Minogue (2001) and for the second time Kate Moss in 2008 (she previously appeared in ads in 2006). "Agent Provocateur", the line's first perfume, was launched in 2000. Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal took over for supermodel Kate Moss as the new face for the line in 2007.
In popular culture
Agent Provocateur is mentioned in the book Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years when Pandora Braithwaite, the Labour MP for Ashby-de-la-Zouch and also the love of Adrian's life confesses during an interview that she buys her underwear from Agent Provocateur in Soho. It is also frequently named in Bridget Jones' Diary and its sequel as a place where Bridget and her friends Shazzer and Jude buy lingerie, including the infamous lilac bra trimmed in fur which snags on Bridget's foot on her trip up the aisle during Jude's wedding. Also recently featured in the movie 'Burlesque' starring Christina Aguilera. The scene where it's mentioned is one of her performances at the Burlesque house, called 'I'm a good girl.'