In fashion, there are trendy dresses and there are sensational dresses.
In the case of Fe Noel’s pairing for her Spring 2023 collection, dubbed “the Dr$$,” it was most definitely both.
The dress ? A corseted strapless gown with a ruffled petticoat, topped off with a signature Fe Noel dress with voluminous sleeves and a 16ft cathedral train – and it’s all made of (artificial) silver – $1.6 million to be exact .
The message? Because women are still underpaid on the man’s dollar, that leaves them with 30% less in retirement savings — or $1.6 million to be exact.
The stat and the dress should make people gasp, according to the eponymous designer of the womenswear brand.
“When you first see the dress, it’s like this ridiculous, massive piece of art. And the reason I use the word ‘ridiculous’ is because when I found out about the stats and the disparity between retired men and women I gasped and I was like this is crazy this is ridiculous Why didn’t I know this before Why are we only learning this And I wanted to post this information where people can really understand how crazy it is,” Noel, one of this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists, told WWD ahead of Friday night’s show. people see the dress – that’s why we made it so massive – I want them to gasp. I want them to first understand the details and what went into it, and then to understand how important the message is that we took the time to make this couture dress to deliver it.
The “Silver Dress,” as she calls it, is Noel’s first couture creation, which emerged as the latest standout piece after her traditional spring collection.
And the details of the dress have been carefully considered to convey the message well.
“It’s made with silver which looks real so we basically work with paper, but I wanted the base of the dress to look like a traditional corset, like a constraint, like when women had to tie and bind, I wanted the foundation to be strong,” Noel said. “We first started with fabric [and then] a traditional corset, so there are bonings, there are ties, there are eyelets, there are all these details. And then on top of that, every ticket is sewn and that’s $1.6 million in tickets.
The cathedral train wasn’t just for show either.
“This is by far the biggest and most elaborate dress I’ve ever done in my entire life. It has a 16 foot long train and it’s like we have a long road ahead of us, but we’re still going to wear it, we’re still gonna walk it, we’re still gonna do whatever we can to keep going to close that gap and educate women about this information and what they can do to basically create their lives, create wealth for themselves…
“You have to think how crazy it is, how we were working around the clock to even present this,” she said.
But for Noel and financial services company TIAA, which partnered with the brand to deliver this message during New York Fashion Week, perhaps the craziest part is how little this fact is discussed.
“New York Fashion Week gave us the opportunity to bring the retirement income gap to life on the global stage,” TIAA chief marketing officer Micky Onvural told WWD. “Women retire with 30% less retirement income than men. We were able to work with Fe Noel to turn this shocking statistic into a visceral, visible, and high-impact learning opportunity. Through this initiative, we are working to change the conversation around retirement and reach new audiences of all ages, races and genders about the work that remains to be done to ensure that more people have sufficient retirement income. .
Through its own #RetireInequality campaign, TIAA — whose chief executive Thasunda Brown Duckett is one of two black female Fortune 500 CEOs — is working to bring visibility to the problem in a bid to root it out. term.
“The retirement income gap is the result of several factors, one of the most important being the fact that women earn about 83 cents per dollar on average compared to men. In addition to this pay equity gap, women often spend more time out of the labor market raising children and caring for older family members. Women also retire on average two years earlier than men, but live five years longer. All of these root causes of the pension gap need to be addressed and it will take all of us – business leaders, policy makers and communities – working together to move forward,” Onvural said.
“We believe employers need to make pay equity a priority by conducting regular compensation audits so they can see and close the pay gaps in their workforce,” Onvural said. “We also need to expand access to career advancement opportunities that can increase wages and boost women’s retirement savings. Additionally, implementing improved benefits such as flexible workplaces, paid parental leave and family care can help alleviate the burden traditionally borne by women and, in turn, can encourage more women to join and stay in the labor market.
Now that “the Dr$$” has wrapped up the Spring 2023 Fe Noel show, the creator wants the focus to be on closing that gender retirement income gap.
“Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, which is why I wanted to start by having the conversation. The dress is the start of that, but it’s only the first step,” she said. “And I’m so pouring into our youth. We are learning stuff right now, if they can learn it a little earlier, it will change their trajectory.
“I really don’t want it to feel overwhelming. I want it to feel like it’s something we can conquer bit by bit. We can conquer it and change it,” Noel added. “That’s the fun part and then it’s like, how do we educate, what’s our call to action? Is it to start saving? Is it to open your retirement account if you don’t have it not done yet ?
Big or small, these are all these ideas that we play with and think about: what’s next after this big reveal? »