Joseph Corr: How to change the world with lingerie

A Day in the Life: Agent Provocateur's founder believes he can expand his brand around the globe.

10am

Joseph Corr is not an early riser. Rather than spending a lot of time at home at the start of the day, the founder of the luxury lingerie label Agent Provocateur prefers to get up and head straight into work. He will nip out to grab a bacon sandwich before making a few telephone calls at his central London office.

This year has been one of change for the company Mr Corr set up with his wife, Serena Rees, in 1994. The couple have separated, and as a consequence Ms Rees left the business, prompting its sale last month to the private equity house 3i for 60m.

The investment is allowing Mr Corr, who remains as creative director, to ramp up the knicker brand's international expansion plans. He is keen to break into the Japanese market with a flagship store and a further seven sites, and also wants to open more stores in the US. The latest launch has just taken place in Miami's fashionable Bal Harbour shopping mall, and Mr Corr is hungry for more: "I certainly think we should be opening two to four stores a year in the States over the next couple of years," he says.

Agent Provocateur currently operates from 14 standalone sites, 12 department stores and nine franchises, but Mr Corr wants to get that to 40 to 60 stores over the next couple of years.

11am

Mr Corr takes a call from the photographer Tim Bret-Day, who shot AP's Maitresse perfume ad. The pair are working on ideas for the next campaign, but it is unlikely to feature any celebrities. The singer Lily Allen has been widely reported as being the new face of AP, but the company hotly denies this. Though AP is credited for creating "viral marketing" through its raunchy advert featuring Kylie Minogue writhing around on a mechanical bull, celebrities are currently strictly out of favour with Mr Corr. "I am totally bored with celebrity television shows," he says. "They have no credibility. I don't want to use any celebrities ever again, unless they are a friend."

Mr Corr is glad that his father, the former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, pulled out of the latest I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, claiming the show was a "fake".

The collaboration with Kylie came about as she was a regular customer. Originally meant to be seen in cinemas and on the AP site, a copy somehow found its way out and on to the web.

Mr Corr admits that having such famous parents (his mother is the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood) was certainly an advantage when the first store opened in Soho. "It was an immediate story for the media, they were able to pigeon-hole me," he says. "But on the other hand, it would be a terrible shame if people only took notice because of who your parents were."

He learnt two invaluable lessons from his parents, who revolutionised the fashion world from their store on the King's Road, first known as Let It Rock, then later Sex, Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die, and now World's End. "I realised what the potential was for having a fixed address, and the ripple effect of what one small store could be," he says. "It is crazy to think that you can open one small store and completely change the face of the fashion industry. I also realised what you can achieve if you have confidence and believe in your own ideas and see them through and are not worried about offending anybody."

However, it was far from plain sailing. His parents split up, the business went bankrupt, which led to Mr Corr joining forces with his mother to get World's End up and running again. "At the end of 10 years I felt I had reached the end of my usefulness for her," he says. He spent a year researching the market before setting up Agent Provocateur.

1pm

There's time to grab a quick sandwich lunch before an afternoon meeting with the design department, where Mr Corr will go over ideas for products, look at fabrics and new designs. The team are currently working on a collection to be launched next September.

Mr Corr has always been intimately involved in all aspects of the business at the outset he used to make patterns and sew products himself. "I am the guy who knows everything about the business and can give people a clear direction," he says, adding that he was always confident the business would be a success.

"I had a vision it was going to be a global brand, but I never wanted it to be like a Sock Shop on every street corner. I felt it should have a presence in every major fashion city in the world, but I wanted to keep it special. People appreciate things more when they have to make an effort to discover them."

When AP first opened its doors it caused a frenzy as nobody had done anything like it before. Since then luxury lingerie has gone mainstream.

"We have changed the face of the lingerie industry and how people look at it," Mr Corr says. "People now have much higher expectations of what a lingerie department should look like. But although everyone now seems to be producing as much as possible, it is all crap, there is no real quality, no attention to detail."

He says AP sets itself apart from its rivals due to this attention to detail combined with the whole in-store experience, with staff taking care to ensure the underwear fits. "We may be the most fashionable lingerie company, but if the bras don't fit properly then people will not buy them," Mr Corr says.

6pm

It is time to clock off from the day job. Mr Corr, who rejected an MBE last year on the ground that the former prime minister Tony Blair "was morally corrupt" in taking the country to war in Iraq, has half an hour to make a couple of calls about a new human rights charity, Humanade, he is setting up, due to launch in February.

"The idea is to get businesses interested in supporting human rights," he says. "Consumers have a lot more power than they imagine. People are so disillusioned with politicians and democracy and feel they don't have a voice their only real power is in the wallet. If they stop spending, companies will listen."

Unsurprisingly, music is Mr Corr's other passion, and tonight he will heading to the studio to work on a second album he is putting together for Agent Provocateur. As a kind of soundtrack to the label, it will be a collaboration with a number of guest artists, but he will sing on three or four of them. It promises to be a heavy night.

The CV

Name: Joseph Corr

Job: Co-founder, Agent Provocateur

Education: St Christopher School, Letchworth.

Personal: Lives in London, separated from his wife, Serena Rees, with whom he has a daughter.

Career: 1984: Worked with his mother, Vivienne Westwood, in re-establishing her shop World's End, King's Road. 1994: Founded Agent Provocateur with its first store in Broadwick Street, Soho. 1997:Second UK location opens at Pont Street, London. 1999: www.agentprovocateur.com launched. 2000: First US store opens on Melrose Avenue, LA.

2007: 3i buys majority stake in Agent Provocateur for 60m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy