Agent Provocateur by Agent Provocateur (2000) {Perfume Review & Musings}

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You will find that the juice contained in the bottle of Agent Provocateur is less dangerous than its name seems to indicate and less explosive than the shape of the bottle seems to imply. Some people have compared the bottle to an egg - even Agent Provocateur themselves; I have always seen a fleshy breast coupled with a hand grenade allusion. Please refer yourselves to the black ribbon on the side. The subliminal advertisement on Agent Provocateur's website clarifies the association as we see a woman holding AP close to her partially naked breast, echoing its image as if in a mirror. Consequently, one can only say that it makes sense for a lingerie brand headed by Joseph Corre, the son of Vivienne Westwood, to promote this feminine shape however slyly or unconsciously...

If the name historically evokes secret agents sent to stir up trouble among the population in order to justify the recourse to force by law and order, it is employed here to conjure up the ages-old association of women, perfumes and seduction allied with the idea of a provocation for men of an erotic nature. The breast is weaponized. Not so surprisingly then - but we must admit that we were actually surprised initially - the perfume turns out to be a classic and potent traditional floral chypre underneath the surface of hip and niche scent aesthetics. The scent smells like a close cousin or even a twin sister of Sisley Eau du Soir, except that the sillage is more subdued while it remains a strong perfume - and it is powdery, which Eau du Soir is not.

Top notes are advertised as being pure saffron oil from India, coriander from Russia, the heart being composed of Moroccan rose oil, Egyptian jasmine, French magnolia oil, ylang, and white flowers from the Comoros. Its base notes are vetiver from Haiti, amber, and musk.

Despite the accent put on the exotic origins of its essences, Agent Provocateur does not suggest any of these far away locales. It is blended to smell urbane and sophisticated and to us, it evokes the 50's, the New Look, a young Lauren Bacall smoking a cigarette with an extra-long cigarette-holder, the rustling of a Dior dress, all ample skirt and slim waist. Agent Provocateur exudes confidence and maturity, it is made for a woman in control, chic, in a 50's sense - not a 40s or a 60s sense - a 50s sense when all what women deeply wanted was a return to glamor at the end of WWII. This is maybe why some people have characterized it as "old-ladyish." It is not; it is rather to our nose, revivalist in style, and so more to the point, it feels slightly retro, without smelling dated.


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6 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. although I am a die hard floral user (e.g marc jacobs, lauder private collection), I tried Agent Provocateur last summer. I wore it every day outside while working on my archaeological project, and every evening. Needless to say, I had the most fun and sexiest summer ever. Don't know if it was the perfume, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt...

    nieves
  2. I found the bottle in a guest bathroom while visiting a friend. Definitely caught my eye. One squirt of it and magically I had everyone complimenting my fragrance, even my husband noticed it was something new..for him to notice is a big deal. Of course I got a bottle (and purse spray) to have for myself!! There's something about the perfume that makes me feels coquettishly sexy ;-)

    Patricia
  3. Does anyone know where i can find the photographer/artist of this advert?

    Laura
  4. Laura, did you ever find out the photographer of this ad? I am writing about it and can't seem to find the information anywhere?

    amber
  5. I have a huge bottle of parfum I purchased in Cannes, FR in 2001, made by Pier Saint Pier, Grand Parfumeur, Surnice, FR and called Pot A Parfums (it has 16 tiny vials of perfume floating inside. Do you know it and does it have a value? Thanks so much! Brenda

    Brenda
    • No, I don't know this object. It sounds very kitsch though, more like a tourist souvenir I'd say, than a classic collector object. You never know though, there might be people who would be interested in it. Hope someone can help you out on this one!

      Chant Wagner

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