It's nearly Valentine's Day, which is sort of like Christmas for the lingerie brands of the world, so it comes as no surprise that Agent Provocateur would issue its own ad campaign just for the hearts-and-chocolates-filled holiday. Still, Agent Provocateur has never been a brand to reach for the obvious. In a refreshing twist on Valentine's Day marketing, creative director Sarah Shotton tapped model, author and body positivity activist Charli Howard to star in the sexy campaign dedicated to loving yourself.
"The brand is so feminine and powerful, and the imagery has always been really strong, but I think that the way that it's going now, it's just so wonderful for women," Howard says of the collaboration between the two. "That's what really excited me about it."
Howard poses against backdrops of (what else?) pink and red, their foil and high-shine plastic materials contrasting behind the delicate lingerie. In some shots, she wears a saucy cowboy hat; in others, knee-high boots featuring a buckle of the Venus symbol. With what Howard calls an "all-female environment," it made for one of her favorite shoots of all time. "I think it's the best shoot I've ever done, let's put it that way," she says. "I am planning on having one printed out and put on my wall, so I must like it!"
Rather than simply having Howard pose in their lingerie, Agent Provocateur also asked her to write a love letter to her own body. It's familiar territory for Howard, whose book, Misfit, is a memoir centered around her experiences with eating disorders and anxiety in the modeling industry; Howard also regularly posts self-portrait nudes on her Instagram which highlight her curves and stretch marks. Still, for an ad campaign, the letter feels deeply personal.
"The letter that I wanted to write was about myself because I treated my body so badly for such a long time," Howard explains. "I just felt really powerful doing this campaign, and I've really started to embrace my body even though it's not traditionally what a lingerie model would look like."
So beyond a killer, frame-worthy photo shoot with an "iconic" company, Howard is excited to be able to further spread her message of self-love to both her own followers and fans of Agent Provocateur. She's excited to see AP embrace more diverse body types and is hopeful it's a trend that will continue in the future.
"I think that we beat ourselves up as women all the time and we don't have to," she says. "I want anyone who looks at [the campaign] to see that your body doesn't have to be super, super skinny to wear, and feel good, in lingerie. It's all about wearing something that makes you feel confident and that makes you feel beautiful — and Agent Provocateur always makes me feel that way."
See Charli Howard's complete campaign for Agent Provocateur and read the letter she wrote here: