Category Archives: WE Feature

WE Ethical: VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, the climate heroine

Humanity is a great part of all creations. Dame VIVIENNE WESTWOOD never stops to put herself into fashion. She who crafts intellectuality and breathes revolts into couture is a climate heroine. 

Continue reading WE Ethical: VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, the climate heroine

The Provocateur

Sarah Shottton

When love is affection, intimacy comes into play. You can never have too much fun, as the saying goes. Pushing this forward, WestEast hot-talks with Agent Provocateur’s Creative Director, Sarah Shotton, about the things, us women, keep so close to our skin…

Agent Provocateur named Sarah Shotton as their rightful creative director in March 2010. Quintessentially an English rose, Shotton grew up in County Durham, in the North East of England, before heading to London to pursue fashion at Central Saint Martins College, London.

It all started in 1999, when Sarah began to work as an apprentice at Agent Provocateur, under founders Joe Corre, and Serena Rees, leading to a decade long love affair with the lingerie house. Sarah wasn’t all boxed up with the mechanics – she’s special for the fact that she knows what the Agent Provocateur woman wants. She found this out whilst working on the shop floor of the lingerie Soho boutique. Not only did she feel out what the Agent Provocateur woman desires, she also built desire by creating many iconic windows, developing individual store concepts, each with its own sweet, spicy, personality.

Agent Provocateur loves Sarah for her fierce ideas, and willingness to shake up the lingerie world, using laces, fabrics in unconventional ways, creating dramatic shapes – all with maximum impact.

How did your time in Central St Martins influence you?

Central St Martins was an inspiring place to be, I was surrounded by creative people who constantly pushed each other to try different things. We were given freedom to do what we wanted to do, and ultimately this helped me be unrestricted in my designs, letting myself be carried away, fully expressing myself.

What principles do you keep in mind when designing a new collection?  

It all comes down to making women look and feel as sexy and empowered as they can be. The combination of using the best materials, with the best designs, and fit, means that women wearing Agent Provocateur are always at their sexy best –sometimes, much to their amazement. Our lingerie is the perfect balance between luxury and naughtiness, and that is always the backbone to our designs.

What do you love most about your work?  

What excites me the most is having the opportunity to create lingerie that inspires people. Lingerie is more life-changing than most people think. I used to work as a sales assistant at our Broadwick Street store, and I’ve had experiences where I’ve persuaded a customer to try something on that they never would have otherwise, and they came back to the store to thank me for helping them gain the confidence to wear lingerie. Now I get to design the lingerie that will make women feel good, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity.  It’s very exciting to see something that I’ve drawn on paper months ago go through all the production stages and finally end up on the shop floor exactly as how I imagined it, it’s such a satisfying feeling.

Can you describe a day in your working life?

I start the day by going through my emails with a cup of coffee, and then I sit down with my team to go over our designs for the new season. In the afternoon, I have fittings sessions with our new designs to make sure that everything fits perfectly. Some days I have lunch appointments at The Ivy or J Sheekey’s, other days I quickly grab some sushi for lunch at my desk while designing on my sketchpad. Later on, I have meetings with our CEO and our directors to plan strategies for our upcoming projects. I end the day with a session of pilates to relax. Every day is non-stop at Agent Provocateur, but I love a challenge and I love what I do.

What, do you think, separates you from the rest of the fashion and lingerie world?

Agent Provocateur is the perfect crossover between the fashion and lingerie world. Although we are mainly a lingerie brand, but we are unique in that we are also a fashion brand at the same time. Agent Provocateur is about confidence, humour, empowerment and sex.

Where do you find inspiration for your collections?

I love watching old movies with strong female protagonists from late 20th Century Hollywood cinema. The characters represent the strength, beauty, and empowerment that ultimately define the Agent Provocateur woman. I also love movies by Russ Meyer and David Lynch, and Kim Basinger in LA Confidential and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct are always inspirations.  Music and people out on the town at night also inspire me.

How do you keep things spicy, but still acceptable, in a conservative society?

You’d be surprised how many customers from conservative societies are actually very spicy behind closed doors! We have our Classics collection which is our range of best-selling designs that include sets such as Francoise and Love that are sexy but not too racy. We also have more covered-up pieces such as slips, pajamas and kimonos. On the other end of the scale, we have playsuits that leave nothing to the imagination – that are popular everywhere. Our more daring designs sell very well in conservative countries.

What does it take to make it in an industry that’s spoilt for choice?

The fashion industry is small but we are all very supportive of each other. It’s 98% hard work and 2% luck. Be focused and don’t take notice of what other people say, and most of all, be confident in yourself.

Do you travel a lot? What’s the most interesting place you’ve been to, and why?

I travel a lot for work, but I don’t travel as much as I’d like to for pleasure. The most interesting place I’ve ever been to is Hawaii; it’s amazingly beautiful, it smells good, it’s sexy and carefree. I go to China for work, it’s always fascinating and inspiring. I also go to Morocco a lot for work; I love the souks there. I would love to visit Russia one day.

What do you think about Asia?

I love Asia; it has such a richness of history and culture. I would love to spend more time travelling there. I am a big fan of Asian food, particularly Thai and Japanese. Nobu is my favourite restaurant.

What do you hate? I don’t really hate many things, but I don’t like ignorance.

What do you fear? Heights, but ironically I’m now dating an ex-mountaineer, so I’m ready to strap on my harness and go climbing with him to fight my fear of heights.

Can you describe the Agent Provocateur woman?

The Agent Provocateur woman is confident, sensual and irreverent. She lives life to the fullest while not taking it too seriously.

What’s beautiful?

Freedom – when you’re free, you feel alive. The English countryside is also the definition of beauty for me.

What’s ugly?

Bitterness and jealousy

Can you explain sexy?

Sexy is about being confident in your own skin and who you are as an individual; everything will follow from there. Sexy is about being carefree.

How can a woman be classy and sexy at the same time?

I love it when a woman dresses up in the most amazing gown, but leaves something undone, such as having messy hair, or a little bit of smudged makeup, or having a bra strap peeping out. It’s imperfect perfection to me, and very classy yet sexy.

Best Valentines Day present?

A vintage record player because I love vinyls.

How would you define love?

Love is a drug; when you’re in a love, you don’t care about anything else.

Interview: Priscilla Lee

Published in Issue 36 LOVE, 2012