SNP’s word of the day: Provocateuse

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett
Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Word: Provocateuse

Meaning: A female provocateur. What’s a provocateur? Oh, come on. It’s someone who provokes, who engenders controversy for controversy’s sake.

Usage:Carine Roitfeld: Agent Provocateuse.” —

You should know it because: Carine’s in the news, posing en famille for Barneys ads and publishing her coffee-table retrospective, Irreverent, the pages of which are delirious with smoke and skin. The ex-editrix was famous for selling fashion with sex, earning her the “provocative” label more times than any fashion person can count, which she discusses at length with us in the upcoming October issue of FASHION.

So too is Paz de la Huerta, the pouting, smoke-blowing, clothes-hating starlet whose nipples have appeared in Gaspar Noé films, most notably Enter The Void, and Boardwalk Empire. In what seems the most obvious collaboration since Coco Rocha in a Coco Chanel advert, de la Huerta is now the face of well-named lingerie line Agent Provocateur. The ads speed-drive home the tricky thing about provocation: in men, it’s more political, a near virtue ascribed to great directors (Lars von Trier) and talents (Kanye West) and leaders (Nicolas Sarkozy). In women, it’s far more sexual. This says too much, perhaps, about the way we divide power between the genders. As the female god of difficult sex on film, Catherine Breillat, once said: “I was born a woman. To do what I wanted to do, I had to be provocative.”

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