I'm not one to endorse buying lingerie for the wife or girlfriend for Christmas or birthdays (total selfish cop-out—try harder, you wieners), but Agent Provocateur may have just changed my mind.

Based in the United Kingdom, the company was founded by Joseph Corré (son of Vivienne Westwood and ex-Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren) and Serena Rees. Agent Provocateur has managed to catch the eye of many, survive and thrive in a field overshadowed by cheap, cheesy and trashy—and not in the good way, either.

Most people head to the mall for their negligees, which is pretty limited to Victoria's Secret's rhinestoned and feathered thongs and Frederick's of Hollywood's purple satin crotchless panties and all that lies in between . . . whatever that may be. While it's true we've also got options such as La Perla (too sophisticated), Cosabella (too boring) and Kiki de Montparnasse (adorable, but inaccessible), Agent Provocateur stands out with their flawless composition of cute, feminine, provocative and exotic.

Serious on the exotic—tasseled pasties and cupless bras are a common Agent Provocateur combination. Whips, masks, leather gloves and paddles also call Agent Provocateur's catalog home. But the title of the most not-so-innocent item in the brand's online store doesn't go to the peculiar strappy leather bondage suits (complete with pasties, obviously), or the entirely see-through red-and-black panties and bras. Instead, it may just be the Lippy T-shirt with ribboned sleeve closures that reads, in a lipstick-written font (à la the New York Dolls), "Eat me, fuck me, treat me like the whore that I am! Then get the fuck out."

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But there are more toned-down, even charming pieces from the line, a favorite being the Talma collection that echoes classic 1950s silhouettes with a dark navy with red-ribbon trim. One of the best things about Agent Provocateur is that each collection features several different pieces: a bra, a corset, low-rise panties, thong, stockings, etc. You can cover up as much or as little as you wish.

The image you see here is from their lengthy two-part ad campaign, "The Manor," which tells the story of a lady of the manor and her two maids, complete with illustrations and photographs. Thanks in part to this highly, uh, tarty media blitz (featuring the likes of Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and current postergirl Maggie Gyllenhaal), the lingerie line met success in the U.K., then expanded into the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

And now, Costa Mesa: Bloomingdales South Coast Plaza has its very own Agent Provocateur section in the lingerie department. While the variety of pieces is limited, it's the closest thing we've got to an actual Agent Provocateur boutique in our neighborhood—the second closest being the store on Melrose.

We're all grown folks here, people. (I mean, I hope you are.) It's okay to talk about this kinda stuff here, right? (Though I do hear the boyfriend's mother reads this thing every week. Sorry.)

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