Are Ball Gown Skirts Poised For A Comeback? New York Fashion Week Says Yes

A classic reimagined.

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ball gown skirt at proenza schouler

While second-skin silhouettes and strategic cut-outs still hold substantial equity in fashion real estate, it seems a more voluminous look is coming into view. As evidenced early on at New York Fashion Week, dramatic ball gown skirts are the trend du jour on the Fall/Winter 2022 runways. And this time around they’re being styled in fresh and modern ways that feel *almost* wearable for the everyday coffee run (or at the very least your next semi-formal affair).

Yes, designers like Jason Wu, Brandon Maxwell, Christian Siriano, and Proenza Schouler all displayed their respective takes on the fancy separate, traditionally designated for weddings and red carpets. Luckily, the 2022 versions run the gamut from Cinderella-esque to office-appropriate, making them poised to take over come fall.

For example, on the more extreme side of the spectrum were Siriano and Maxwell, who each debuted floor-length tea-cup shaped skirts. The former paired the silhouette with a tan and navy checkered print and a gathered pleated waist that looked sleek with its coordinating long sleeved cropped blouse. Maxwell went for a snow bunny vibe, pairing the ivory raw-silk masterpiece with a cozy cream cable knit that dressed the look down just slightly, making it feel at once approachable and easy.

Christian Siriano / Imaxtree
Courtesy of Brandon Maxwell

In true form, Wu took an alternative approach to the classic voluminous ball skirt that felt lighter yet still dramatic. Inspired by classic 1950s fashion, his fall offering included a skirt-pant hybrid that paired black stove-pipe pants with a voluminous bow-shaped miniskirt, paired with a corseted crop top. While still formal in essence, the look translates nicely to a night-out or winter wedding guest attire.

Jason Wu/ Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images Entertainment

Then there was Proenza Schouler. Designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough signaled the end of the sweatpants-laden WFH uniform with strong tailoring, bold prints, and — of course — a host of flowing, voluminous skirts. The latter, designed in a color-blocked, ankle-length style, read indulgent but still comfortable, particularly when paired with a white button-down and black boots. This is essentially the fine balance consumers have been demanding two years and several variants into the global pandemic.

Proenza Schouler/ Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

To be clear, over-the-top ball skirts are far from a new trend, and have come and gone in prominence on the runways for years (nay, decades). Designers like Raf Simons have embraced the separate in collections past. In his S/S 2011 collection for Jil Sander, Simons set the separate against candy-colored hues and cinched, pleated waists. And one can’t forget Carolina Herrera — the design house has practically made the ball skirt a staple in every collection, whether as a silk polka dotted confection or in rich “signature” red taffeta. Similarly, Oscar de la Renta has long shown favor for a dramatic skirt, opting for layered tulle and intricately embroidered variations over the years.

Jil Sander Spring Summer 2011 Chris Moore/Catwalking/Catwalking/Getty Images
Oscar de la Renta Spring Summer 2020Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

But perhaps the greatest distinction this year is the versatility and, well, wearability of the elusive ball gown skirt. Once exclusively a formal wear staple, the piece is proving to be an everyday must-have for the fall season. Cheers to fancier days ahead.