Vogue has made it official: The Bubble is a Fall Trend. Indeed, bubble skirts can be found from Nieman-Marcus to Walmart. I've been intrigued by relative novelty of these drapey items, so I've tried on a few -- and rapidly removed them. All I could do was stare, and not in a good way, when a middle-aged woman waltzed into My Favorite Muffin at 10:00 a.m. wearing a shiney silver bubble rendered in some crinkley material (I think it was this one, in fact). So bubbles may be a current trend, but as far as I'm concerned, they don't quite work.
However, I still like the idea of bubbles, balloons, and their kinder, gentler sister, the tulip skirt, in theory and in vintage. Look at these beautiful examples from the past; the pattern from Fuzzy Lizzy Vintage (click on photo for link), the cinnamon tulip dress formerly for sale by emmapeelpants (can you stand it?) on ebay. Here's another gorgeous example, once again, already sold, that'll give you an idea of what a dress made from this pattern might look like.
The vintage balloon/bubble/tulip dresses work, I think, because they're for evening, when fanciful dress is expected, and because the designers Committed to The Bubble (but not in an '80's way) and went with lots of volume. The current crop of full gathered skirts look rather deflated and tomboyish in comparison, whereas a proper bubble dress just has to be full-tilt girly. Dresses with the bubble silhouette also work better than skirts because they solve the nagging question "what the hell do I wear with this?" With a dress, the wearer just has to Commit to the Bubble, put on a great pair of shoes, and go.