Naomi, Christian Lacroix, 80’s, and (un)flattering bubble silhouette

Naomi Campbell wearing a Christian Lacroix ensemble. Photo by Patrick Demarchelier, Vogue UK, October 1987.

The bubble (or puffball or balloon) silhouette has a very specific and well defined style which is characterised by a voluminous skirt. The hem of the skirt is folded back on itself, fixed to the lining, to create a bubble effect at the hemline.

This style of dress can have varying bodice types including cap sleeves and one shoulder designs but one of the most common is the bustier. The length of the skirt on a bubble dress is usually quite short, resting mid-thigh or above the knee.

After an absence of about a century, the baloon skirt, with the proportions of the new century, is back in fashion at the beginning of 1950’s when Cristobal Balenciaga introduced a double baloon silhouette – jacket and skirt.

Baloon dress, Balenciaga, 1950.

After Balenciaga, both French designer Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior released different versions in 1954. and 1956. Dior’s version, a red satin bubble dress is today found in the Missouri History Museum and took inspiration from his other passion, architecture, which he blended with his love of ladies’ fashion. The bubble dress is referred to as ‘structurally challenging’ by fashion historians and it’s only possible due to the unique inner construction of the skirt itself and the iconic drapes of the fabric.

Christian Dior, bubble dress, 1956.

This style of dress made a comeback in the 1980’s, thank to the imaginative creativity of the French designer Christian Lacroix. Introducing the “pouf”, or the puffball skirt, Lacroix created the only real alternative for a feminine approach to fashion of that decade, dominated almost exclusively by the male power suit.

The success was immediate and this gravity defying concotion became famous for its inventiveness and was a staple of late 1980’s party gear.

Jane Seymor and Christian Lacroix. Jane is wearing striped bubble dress. 1980’s.
Princess Diana styled a white double-breasted blazer over her bubble dress in Cannes, 1987.

Many thought that bubble look was unflattering and this trend was very short-lived with occasional comebacks throughout the years.

What do you think? Bubble dress, hot or not?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s