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Agent Provocateur Exhibitionist Hardcover – April 28, 2008
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When my mind suddenly focuses on the kinky eye candy characters of whatever little mysterious story that is being told by the window art, I know I've passed the gallery I was planning to stop at. After checking out the theme of the story being told in the window display, I back track to the gallery.
Earlier today it happened again. This time I decided to stick my head into the shop's door and compliment whoever is responsible for their attention grabbing window art. Today I was met by not one, but three lovely model-like sales women. I told them I'd only stopped by to compliment them on their very original window art. I just wanted whoever was responsible for designing it to know that their efforts were appreciated.
One of the sales women thanked me, but said that the well-known British store chain was actually world famous for it's window designs. They had even published a book about it. That's how I came to buy a copy of this book. It's not an example of Macy's legendary G-Rated Christmas Window Displays and even Victoria's Secret, which is located down the street pales by comparison to the attractiveness and interest generated by the "Agent Provocateur" window displays. People come back to the shop time and time again just to stare mesmerized at the window displays. Single people often return with their "special" friends to share the fantasy.
While some people might feel that those windows are too much like the bay window displays in the brick and brownstone buildings of Amsterdam's Red Light District, they are actually more tasteful than that particular example, although they probably do evoke similar curiosity. The displays are kind of a combination of Surrealist artist Man Ray and Vogue's Helmut Newton photography styles. All the windows definitely have a Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca" flavor to them. Check out a couple of their window displays I captured while at a highbrow art show next door and judge for yourself. I've uploaded the kinky snapshots of the "Till death do us part" and "Housewive's Favorite Household Quickie" themed displays to this listing site.
As Rowan Pelling writes in a short section regarding Fantasy:
"To walk past an Agent Provocateur boutique is to experience the curious sensation that a structure of bricks and mortar has just winked at you."
"Over the years, Agent Provocateur devotees have been treated to the coquettish mannequins deporting themselves as French maids, peep-show strippers, burlesque vixens, rockabilly chicks bestriding a mean engine and S&M madams bound with black tape."
"These scenarios aren't the sanitized erotica familiar from women's glossy magazines, but the wild outpourings of the imagination on fire."
Photographer Enzo Peccinotti has had a long-term fascination with the A.P. Window displays and his early documentation of them resulted in his being awarded a commission to shoot the pictures included in this high-quality coffee table picture book. The last photographer to use mannequins this well in a chic photo essay was Helmut Newton when he did a series of nude and semi-nude models in very dangerous situations in Paris. He utilized the hair, make-up artists and fashion stylists he was using for the other "Vogue" magazine fashion shoot he was doing at the same time. He had decided to use the clothes dummies because the situations he was shooting were much too dangerous to risk the lives of his "living" models. As in all the science-fiction stories, the mannequins seemed to take on a life of their own. They even have individual names and personalities. What is one person's trash is another person's treasure and this book definitely shows the power of window advertising to attract customers and draw them into the mysterious, inviting space behind the windows.
Once inside the store, or at least on the Newbury Street shop in Boston's trendy Back Bay, the sales staff is obviously wearing their company's products under their white lab coat-like fashions and very much continue the fantasy inspired by the window art. One of this reviewer's favorite window stories debuted in 2003, was political in nature and was entitled "Weapons of Mass Distraction." That display also included the tongue-in-cheek subtitle "The only Bush I trust is my own."
Who says window merchandizing has to be boring?