Before stylists and goddess gowns took over, there were a lot of eye-popping fashions at the Oscars. One dress that regularly turns up on everyone’s all-time worst-dressed list is Geena Davis’s 1992 short-in-the-front, long-in-the-back “mullet” dress.
After that, mullet dresses were stamped with a big “NEVER!” in my mind, and if you’ve been reading my blog, you know what that means: the mullet is due for a revival because Never Is the Next New Thing™. Sure enough, in February 2010, my designing friend Zang Toi did a beautiful mullet dress. I’ve been tearing my hair out for months trying to find the blog interview where I mentioned the look as a trend to watch, only to realize the answer was cut out of the interview. Luckily I still have the Word document in which I wrote my response to “What upcoming trends are you thinking of trying out?” I said:
“Crazy lace and mixed mini-maxi hemlines … both have been done by Versace and Zang Toi. Versace had a lavender laminated-lace trench in the pre-fall collection and Zang is doing leather lace for fall. As for the mixed hemlines, Jennifer Lopez wore Versace’s mini-maxi dress to the Grammys this month, and Zang just showed a strapless sequin minidress with a spectacular floor-length overskirt. The mixed hemline does remind me of Geena Davis’s much-criticized 1992 Oscar dress, but that doesn’t scare me. I also want to try purple lipstick like Zang had in his show on February 13.”
Note that I went to great lengths to avoid using the unappealing word “mullet.” Now I prefer “high/low hemline.”
Anyway, similar hemlines kept catching my eye. One was from Sarah Burton, designing for the Alexander McQueen label. She showed the style in October 2010.
I was delighted to see my girl Rihanna wearing a stunning high/low Christian Dior dress at the Grammys this February 13.
The day after the Grammys, the Wall Street Journal mentioned that jackets with tuxedo tails were seen on the runways during New York Fashion Week. I thought the jacket trend boded well for the acceptance of asymmetry. And, proving my point, on Oscar night at the end of that month, actress Emma Stone wore a tailed dress from Chanel’s Fall 2009 Couture collection.
The following month, actress Teresa Palmer wore Cushnie et Ochs for the Paris premiere of the movie I Am Number Four.
My Prada-dress nemesis Hailee Steinfeld wore a high/low hemline by Stella McCartney at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala this May.
Earlier this month, Lady Gaga wore a high/low Mugler to the CFDA awards.
But a trend is really happening when it moves off the red carpet and onto the sidewalks. Last month, Emily Maynard of reality TV’s The Bachelor was snapped wearing a $128 high/low hemline dress by Funktional.
Gorgeous blogger Ashley of Two Eyes in the Mirror posted a photo of herself in a high/low skirt from Nasty Gal on June 1.
If you want to try this look, Bloomingdale’s has several high/low hemline options for less than $200.
I’m thinking a high/low hemline might be a solution for you wimmins who feel overwhelmed by a maxi dress or skirt. As for me, I deeply regret not getting Zang’s dress. I might console myself with Kaelen’s fall 2011 high/low skirt.
It would fit in nicely with my mini-collection of yellow skirts.
If you’ve already got this look going on, send a picture to me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com, so I can share your stylishness with the world in a followup post!
UPDATED TO ADD: For those of you who have gasped, “But what about Stephanie Seymour’s wedding dress in the Guns N’ Roses ‘November Rain’ video?” … here’s the 1992 video. I’ve been nosing around the Interwebs to find the date the video was released. It seems that it might have been shot before Geena Davis wore her dress that March, but that it didn’t come out until after. If anyone has any better information, let me know!
UPDATED AGAIN TO ADD: I got the scoop on the Guns N’ Roses dress from a college friend! He was a production assistant on the “November Rain” video and says he “spent quite a bit of time by Stephanie Seymour (and her dress).” According to my source, the video was in production during the ’92 Oscars — in fact, the final night of shooting was on Oscar night. He says Stephanie’s wedding dress scene was shot several days before the Oscar telecast but the video and images of her dress were not released until well after Geena Davis’s appearance. So the two mullet dresses were an example of “great minds think alike” or, as my friend put it, “It’s kind of like [1998 movies] Armageddon and Deep Impact, but with dresses.”
Great post and you really found some amazing examples. Good job! I’m feeling the need to buy a high/low skirt. Ooops, I mean a mullet!
Oh Wow! That’s quite some trend. I don’t think I have anything in my closet like this right now … Should definitely be on a lookout!
Let me know if you get anything!
Okay that Zang Toi dress is unfairly beautiful.
Also, is my word verification seriously “4thelolz”?
I’m extremely serious about lolz!
slow southern style says
okay so I loathe geena davis’ dress. Anything too mini with a sweeping train is a little trashy to me a la Stephanie Seymour’s wedding dress in the November rain video. That said I am really digging the new versions of the mullet dress with the back being only slightly longer than the front. It is more “oooh look at that” vs. “ugh look at her.”
I try not to use the word “never” with trends, because I feel like I’m jinxing myself. So I’ll give mullet dresses a strong probably not. 🙂 Great post!
I’m also reminded of Audrey Hepburn’s dress in Sabrina, although the Givenchy dress’s hemline doesn’t have the dramatic mini/full-length contrast your examples do!
Hi there!! This is a great look, I really love the last skirts and dresses and its a trend I’ll look out for!!
Ive always liked this look. You get floaty long skirt but you can still see your shoes, a big plus in my book. What’s held me back is I didn’t like the execution in most cases. There was a pretty black option at Anthropologie or Urban Ourfitters last fall but by the time I saw it (since I’ve cancelled getting paper catalog, I’m behind the times) it was sold out. I even tried calling stores to no avail. I’m still sad and on the lookout for my perfect option.
PS. I love the shoes on Zang’s girl!
The Mullet dress! That’s such a brilliant description. The yellow one’s my favourite.
I’ve only ever done the reverse mullet when I’ve come back from the toilet with my skirt tucked in my knickers, does that count? x
Patti @ NotDeadYet Style says
Yeah, take out the “M” word, and you have a nice look. I like the Bloomie’s dresses you featured. And young Ashley looks adorable. So, thanks for the heads-up.
miss cavendish says
Ahh, I had just been noticing the former bachelorette’s dress this morning. With these looks it’s all about proportion for me. Rhianna’s dress I love!
I don’t know if it was so much the high/low characteristic that everyone hated about Geena’s dress, I think it was more the 80’s hooker bride vibe she was giving off in it.
I’m with those who like the version with smaller hem-length differential. Still wouldn’t wear ’em, but at least they don’t make my head hurt.
fashion herald says
Ha, I thought Seymour’s wedding dress was so badass back in my metal dayz! Her and Tawny Kitaen, who maybe sported a mullet dress in a Whitesnake video? Maybe it just looked like it because she was writhing in it so much.
Re: Stephanie Seymour’s Gn’R November Rain dress
Actually, the video for November Rain was in production during the ’92 Oscars when Geena Davis wore the “mullet” dress in question. Stephanie wedding dress scene was actually shot several days before the Oscar telecast but the video and images of her dress were not released until well after Geena Davis’s appearance.
It’s kind of like ARMAGEDDON and DEEP IMPACT, but with dresses…
omg! i am wearing one on my blog today!
mullet dresses are indeed fun to wear!
Lizzi S. says
I adore Rihanna’s dress!
I’m pretty sure I had a black velvet and midnight blue taffeta high/low dress in the early ’90s that I wore on the Bar/Bat Mitzvah circuit. I’m also pretty sure it was hideous.
I’ve been wondering what the next ‘never’ was going to be! I wore a high/low dress here: http://geekthreads.blogspot.com/2011/05/gift-horse.html
Not as dramatic as some of the ones you’ve shown here, but I think it counts.
I’m hugely on the fence about this trend, but that last skirt youve posted is kinda changing my mind about it. If you see Hanneli’s post on her blog today she’s rocking a very small high low skirt!
Remind me of her URL?
Never mind, I found her! http://www.hanneli.com/favorite-combination/
Thanks for catching that!
Penny Dreadful Vintage says
I think Demi Moore wore something similar too. I reckon Geena looks awesome, but look at her crazy tiny waist!
She actually wore bicycle shorts with a kind of train/overskirt. Those deserve a post of their own!
Penny Dreadful Vintage says
Ah right you are, how could I ever forget!
I love the high/low look and that Ella Moss is calling my name!
Yay, Ashley! I like this look and seeing my favorite blogger wearing it is extra-fun!
Oooh I loved this post Wendy! I love the high/low hemline…probably good for girls like me too who usually steer away from maxi skirts because I just feel to short for them. The high/low hemline is a welcome compromise!
tina m says
OK, Did you come up with the term “mullet dress”, Wendy? Because that is brilliant!!!
Nope, it’s not my term!
I have one and I just can’t wear it. It’s a beautiful Richard Ruiz silk dress with an Egyptian necklace type print (around the neckline, obviousy). It just feels weird. I’m thinking about having the hemline evened out. It’s too beautiful not to wear.
Please, please, please, wear it long enough to take a picture for me! 🙂
I Love this look! It’s like wearing a frame for your shoes! I adored the blue “high/low” Versace dress that January Jones wore to the Emmy’s, I thoght it looked fun and sophisticated
How did I forget that one?!
I love this look! And that Kaelen dress is gorgeous, I’m off to look at it more closely….
Megan Mae says
I wish it were fall already because I picked up two examples of hi-lo dresses (done right, imo). Unfortunately it’s just too sweltering hot to consider wearing them yet.
I like to call them Party in the front, purity in the rear.
My pet peeve with these dresses is that the lining shows, and especially on the cheap ones, they never line it or do anything and i don’t like to see open seams through my legs. I feel like the inside of the back part is important.
That said, I love the Rhianna Dior, and I would love the Thierry Muegler one if the lining on the train wasnt boring.
to be fair, the part of the thierry muegler one that I hate would probably on the ground as a train if Lady Ga Ga was not wearing 2 foot tall heels.
I think Zang Toi can make anything look good. I would wear that one.
good girl gone blog says
So glad those dresses have a name! Mullet dresses…so catchy!
I don’t understand why so many people say it’s a bad look. Things have been so boring on the red carpet lately. Can’t a girl have some fun? I like the look, especially the casual examples you showed.
High/low tops are especially flattering with a slim bottom too.
Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl says
I LOVE this trend! But I am yet to find my perfect dress in this style 🙁
kinda funny to see this while I’m sitting here at my desk in a similarly hemmed dress a la TJ Maxx 😉 What’s even funnier is I bought it b/c it was the same hemline as a gorgeous handmade dress by a friend I bought about 1.5 years ago, and she keeps selling out of them, so I haven’t been able to get another one by her in the color/size I want. Then there’s the skirt I bought last weekend by another friend/designer with the same hemline, and I felt like power-goddess walking through the airport in it. LOL damn it.
The Styley says
I love this trend too. I’ve always thought it was elegant, and I think your analysis of the mullet skirt/dress (I like that term) as a good compromise between mini and maxi is spot-on.
I am ok with mullet skirts and dresses, after all is a rule breaker. ( no, no about mullet hair LOL)
I would have Rihanna´s dress anyday.
have a grand weekend.
LOVE this trend…I JUST posted a skirt the other day that I got at a local boutique and have sold 3 pieces to clients already….getting a great reaction at retail…it is fun, updated and modern….shows some leg, but also a hint of modesty??? I think.
Hope this trend sticks around a bit..I am digging it!