NEW YORK — – Los Angeles may be the capital of dirty underwear.
First there was Frederick's of Hollywood. Then there was Trashy Lingerie. Now Tinseltown is opening its arms to a new lingerie powerhouse: Agent Provocateur.
The British-based maker of barely-there lingerie made famous by celebs such as Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Nicole Kidman has just set up shop in Los Angeles, and now Americans can spend an hour or two shopping for unmentionables that aren't so much worn as exuded.
The lingerie line's space on too-trendy Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood not only features undies for sexy Sundays, it has an "extra-special boudoir room" where customers can romp in their rompers to their heart's delight and in complete privacy.
Named for seductive secret agents who convert the enemy and raise trouble, 5-year-old Agent Provocateur kicks up a storm wherever it opens.
A London shop prompted a call to police because of its penis-shaped Christmas tree display, and an Agent Provocateur Girl contest featured a dozen scantily-clad models walking the city's streets carrying banners that read "Come See Our Knickers."
The line's catalog comes in the shape of playing cards with essentially naked models on them, and its name is often mentioned alongside the names of top-list stars and models in the pages of celebrity columns and fashion mags.
Add to that the distinguished clothing ancestry of husband-and-wife designers Joe Corre and Serena Rees. Corre is the son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, whose own outlandish fashions were made famous by the seminal punk band The Sex Pistols.
And now to America, Corre and Rees say.
"Los Angeles is foreplay," the couple said in a press release. "New York will be coming later."
Actually, the duo confided to WWD Magazine, New York City wasn't ready for them because it is "quite uptight." So, instead, they looked westward, joining Frederick's and Trashy to make the City of Angels possibly the world's capital of lacy undergarments.
"Women here [in Los Angeles] want to express their beauty and sexiness more so than in New York, where they're buttoned up," Rees told one reporter.
The knickers in question are also very tight. Based on 18th-century high fashion "with chinoiserie motifs," Agent Provocateur's provocatives feature plenty of extra straps, laces, peepholes, tasty pasties and sheer nothings.
They're complemented by a line of shoes and jewelry the company describes as based on "high glamour and subtle fetishism" — think gem-studded dog collars. The whole shebang is a direct repudiation of the Gap-led "one-size-fits-all" mentality of most of the lingerie market.
Prices range from $16 for silk-seamed hosiery to $600 for a boned corset.