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Q&A: Agent Provocateur creative director Sarah Shotton on its latest campaign

Lauretta Roberts
06 September 2019

Agent Provocateur creative director Sarah Shotton has been with the brand since its was conceived in the 1990s. Known for its unapologetically sexy and somewhat subversive approach, it has today released its latest high-impact marketing campaign "The World of AP", a follow-up to SS19's "Pump it Up". Shotton talks the about the women, the products and the inspiration behind the campaign.

“The World of AP” is another strong campaign from Agent Provocateur following on from Pump it Up last season, can you tell us what the inspiration was and the key messages are in this campaign?

I wanted to do something that was a continuation of Pump It Up but was even more Agent Provocateur. I knew we wanted to keep it about Sister hood, girls dancing and feeling free and unstoppable together but wanted it to be edgier, more surreal and I wanted it to have a fantasy element. I also wanted to question how does it feel to be a woman in 2019 and can we get away with this? Yes we can and let’s make it a world of AP pink!

The last campaign also focused on a group of women and the team behind the production was all female, was that the case this time and why is that important to you and that brand?

Agent Provocateur has always been about hero-ing women in the campaigns, the difference with old campaigns compared to Pump it Up and Deep Inside is that we are hero-ing 25 girls instead of just one. We are pushing it further – we like feeling naughty, strong and sexy, we are unapologetic – we are doing it our way and this is how it feels to wear AP. The campaign has the same all-female cast on the creative side as the past two campaigns however, we do have men working with us and that has always been the case at AP. Although I’m a feminist I still believe in equality and this brand has always been about both men and women. I think the main thing about our campaigns right now is that it’s not just one woman dancing its many; if it was just one it might feel a bit voyeuristic but when there is a group dancing in this way you can get away with more!

Agent Provocateur

Can you tell us a bit about the process of bringing the campaign together and how it was executed? The dancing and the backdrop are incredible, how did you pull that off?

Charlotte Wales and I sat together after Pump It Up came out and thought where do we go from here? Let’s make it bigger, naughtier much more fun and more unapologetic. We worked with the same team again, Danielle Polanco who is amazing is the choreographer who worked with us over a couple of days. We did an open casting which was fun because AP is about many types of women. We knew we wanted it to be surreal and have a bit of a Busby Berkeley feel but in a modern way. Charlotte found the underground half-built theatre which was rough and ready but flooded with pink it looked other worldly! We also wanted the main dance troop to wear exactly the same outfit but to be different in body shape… it’s amazing really because you don’t notice size when you have 25 girls in the same outfit! The dancers worked non-stop rehearsing with Danielle it was exhilarating and inspiring to watch and follow.

How will the campaign be rolled out, for instance, which channels will you use and will there be different edits or other special activations?

We will be rolling out the campaign across our stores, online and social channels, advertising and of course via press and word of mouth.

AP works on fashion cycle with its collections, where do you draw your inspiration from each season and are you designing with a campaign, as well as a collection, in mind?

I’m inspired by lots of things really mostly people characters in films or the series I’m watching on TV and what’s going on in the world. There is always a bit of historical references within each collection but we execute it in a modern way. At the beginning it’s very collection focused because a lot can go on in a year, so we shoot the campaign about three months before it is released.

Agent Provocateur

Can you tell us what the key pieces are in the AW19 collection and what makes them special?

The Rozlyn range is all boned and sums up the vibe of the collection. The caged waspie featured in the video is great because although the girls were doing floor work when wearing it, it just bounced back into position! The Prudence bra is also featured heavily in the video, it’s a cropped bra top with built in wire with criss-cross lacing down the center front. My personal favourites are Foxi, as I like the deconstructive features and the asymmetric neckline, and Elora I love - it’s a range that is made out of a gorgeous floral printed satin and is quite simple in design. The collection has a great corset dress in the same print. Ivey is a bustier bra range with open seaming on the outside and edged in a pretty floral embroidery it’s a modern take on something quite classic. The Ayla is a silk hot pink Basque but again with a modern take, so I think a lot of girls will be wearing it out and about with jeans.

You’ve been at AP since the brand started in the 1990s, it’s always been unapologetically sexy and a bit subversive, how are you balancing that brand point of view in this post #MeToo era?

Well it’s in the name “Provocateur” if we didn’t do campaigns that were slightly provocative and controversial we wouldn’t be Agent Provocateur. I suppose in 2019 compared to the 1990’s I’m treading carefully and shooting campaigns closer to the deadline which at times is a bit stressful but is safer to make sure you get it right for your audience. AP has always been about sexual liberation and making you feel good about yourself whoever you are, it’s about freedom of choice and being whoever you want to be.

You will already be well into your SS20 preparations, how do you top these two campaigns?

I’m just in talks with Charlotte at the moment… the beginning and getting it right is the hard bit. Let see how this one goes and we will go from there….

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