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Agent of desire heads to Perth
Agent Provocateur is now available in Perth. Picture: Supplied

If you're not sure whether you've heard of British lingerie brand Agent Provocateur before, you might want to think again.

Remember seeing those notorious TV ads with pop diva Kylie Minogue bouncing around on a bucking bronco, clad only in black lace? Or an eight-weeks-pregnant Melissa George posing seductively in her smalls? Both Agent Provocateur.

These purveyors of sexy underthings have big-name fans. Lingerie model, blogger, and Wheels and Dollbaby pin-up Tiah Eckhardt is a devotee: so is burlesque performer Dita Von Teese, who won't wear any old thing when stripping down to her pasties.

If you like your underwear with a mix of elegance and naughtiness, then this is the lingerie label for you.

Earlier this year, the brand launched concession stores inside David Jones in Melbourne and Sydney; now it's Perth's turn. The David Jones boutique will include the full spring-summer 2014 collection, plus the brand's Classics, Bridal and Swimwear range.

"Australia is our fourth-biggest online market after the UK, the US and Germany," explains the brand's creative director Sarah Shotton.

"So the time seemed right to expand into Australia with more of a retail presence. Our corsetry and our swimwear sell really well in Australia, especially our bikinis."

Established in 1994 by Joe Corre - the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren - and Corre's then-wife Serena Rees, Agent Provocateur began with one boutique in London's Soho district.

At the time, there was little else like it on the market. The brand released glamorous, slightly fetishistic advertising campaigns, attracted some high-profile clients, and managed to strike a balance of what Shotton calls "sexy with a juxtaposed elegance".

The brand is not cheap (its bestselling Fifi bra retails for around $150) but when you are using fine materials such as top-notch French Chantilly lace, higher prices tend go with the territory.

"But that's what draws women to us," Shotton says.

"Women love Agent Provocateur because they know we always produce high-quality garments. We're very conscious of this and we believe it's imperative that the garments not only look beautiful but fit really well. We have a strong technical team who are always looking for new ways to produce the best fit."

The key to the label's success seems to be its ability to walk the line between staying true to the brand DNA while also observing - and often instigating - new "trends" in lingerie.

"Our customers are pretty trend aware and we have to make sure we always remain contemporary," Shotton says.

"Our shoppers are usually repeat buyers, so we have to ensure the collection looks fresh each season. But I don't always let seasonal trends dictate my designs; I prefer to focus on a particular point of inspiration. The spring/summer 2014 collection is actually inspired by the stereotype of a pristine and glossy suburban housewife from the 1950s."

Eckhardt, whose blog The Daily Knicker is devoted to all things lingerie, recently commented to a Sydney journalist that Agent Provocateur provided a welcome point of difference for the Australian market, which tends to equate sexiness with bubbly blonde girls on the beach, sporting a singlet top and a suntan.

"We're more about wearing flip-flops and a bikini rather than pom-pom mules with a riding crop in hand," Eckhardt said. "But I can tell you, girls willing to drop $500 on a set of lingerie exist here."

Agent Provocateur's online success with Australian consumers proves it, and it's not just your stock-standard bras and knickers flying off the shelves.

According to the brand's chief executive Garry Hogarth, a lot of Australian women invest in Agent Provocateur's corsets, often to wear as outerwear. Swimwear does well for the obvious reasons, as does the brand's bridal line.

The label has expanded over the years to include perfume, hosiery, even homewares.

Although Shotton will not commit to saying whether there are any plans to open stand-alone stores in Australia down the track, it's a possibility not to be ruled out, especially with other brands such as Victoria's Secret recently making their presence felt on the Australian market.

Watch this space.

Agent Provocateur is available at David Jones. agentprovocateur.com.