SS18 Bubble Hems: Erdem, Philip Lim, Mary Katrantzou |

Style Opinion: Don’t Bring Back the Bubble Skirt

Words by Jody Hume | 1.17.18
Of course, it’s already too late. Billowing bubble skirts were all over the spring 2018 runways, so you can expect to see them everywhere from the street style fests of fashion week to the store fronts of high street. Some of the catwalk’s bubble hem styles had an unexpectedly sporty vibe, like the technical, anorak-style separates at Mary Katrantzou and the monochromatic American sportswear at Philip Lim. Others were unabashedly feminine, like Erdem’s regal-feeling floral mesh gowns and Missoni’s vibrant, multicolor print dresses. But whatever their bubble flavor, I’m ready to burst it.
Maybe my aversion stems from that phenomenon many people experience: hating a trend they had to live through once already. Back in the early 2000s, at the dawn of the bubble skirt’s first rise, I would sometimes sew my own clothes. Unfortunately, I can’t forget the purple dress with an unmistakable bubble hem I made and wore. Why? At the time it seemed interesting and fun — I guess we were all bored with the resolute flatness of regular hems? But looking back on it, there’s something both childish and sadly deflated about bubble hems. I can get on board with the return of lots of other ‘90s and ‘00s looks (chokers, ‘belt bags’ as they’re now called), but some, like the bubble hem, should be relegated to the past with all the Von Dutch trucker hats of the world, never to be seen again. We’re going to start seeing scrunchies too, so we’ll have to evaluate.

One theory for the bubble hem’s resurgence? Maximalism. It still seems to have a stranglehold on the fashion zeitgeist (and is edging into home decor, too), what with Gucci and Balenciaga’s ascendancy and now the end of Phoebe Philo’s epicly minimal reign at Céline. First it was ruffles, sequins, intarsia, pearls, and now perhaps it’s volume. Maybe it’s a sign that maximalism needs somewhere to go, something to stretch into — like an overly voluminous skirt. And that could be another reason for my distaste. I’m not ready to see minimalism fall by the wayside. Give me monochrome, understated tailoring, something interesting and chic but under-the-radar.
Of course, loathing is usually the first stage of loving. I’ve often thought of myself as someone who’s prone to what I call ‘fashion akrasia.’ Akrasia is a term I picked up in my philosophy studies which means “the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will.” With fashion akrasia, your weakness of will leads you to wear things you know are not good. If you had told me in high school (pink hair, punk uniform) that I would grow to love a steady diet of neutrals and sack dresses, I probably would have responded with disgust, but here I am. Maybe I’ll live to regret these styles, but for someone in the fog of fashion akrasia it’s hard to tell whether something is so bad it’s good, or just bad. So now that I’ve expressed my distaste, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I can’t imagine wearing anything OTHER than a bubble skirt. But I’m asking designers: please don’t make me want to relive it. Save me from myself, and from looking like a balloon the day after a party.

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