Woman recreates grandmother’s vintage fashion designs from the 1940s

An Illinois woman has gone viral for sharing a series of videos recreating vintage fashion designs created by her grandmother in the 1940s.

Julia, a content creator who posts under the handle @boringbb on TikTok, was so inspired by her grandmother’s fashion sketches, she set out to make her grandmother’s vision a reality.

“It went viral overnight,” said Julia. “A lot of people in the comments said, ‘You have to get someone to make these, you have to bring these to life!'”

Her grandmother dropped out of fashion school in the 1940s to support her family financially and never pursued a fashion career, but kept many of her sketches, she said.

After discovering the sketches, Julia said she shared them on TikTok where people in the comments encouraged her to bring the designs to life.

“I just watched YouTube videos and played around with different items I would thrift to kind of teach myself how to sew,” she said.

An original sketch by Julia’s grandmother created during her time in fashion school is shown next to Julia modeling one of her grandmother’s designs.@boringbb/TikTok

Julia started with restoring her grandma’s wedding dress and then moved on to re-creating her designs, including a “Moulin Rouge”-inspired black and blue ballet dress. Julia has spent about two years making dresses based on her grandmother’s sketches, and has posted videos unveiling the real-life designs on TikTok and to her grandmother.

In a viral TikTok video posted on June 28, Julia unveiled the final product to her grandmother and the moment nearly brought her to tears. “It’s one thing to see it in a drawing but it’s — when you’re putting it together and I see it in real life it kind of makes me want to cry a little bit,” her grandmother said in the video with about 20 million views.

Her grandma is not very connected online but is appreciative of the feedback on her designs. “I think that she really gets a kick out of people taking interest in her work in her designs,” Julia said.

Julia says she’s always had a close relationship with her grandmother.

“She came over every day when I was growing up. She helped raise my siblings and I. My mother is an only child. So, grandma really had all of her time and energy dedicated to us grandkids,” said Julia, “Some people look up to rock stars or singers or artists, I always looked up to my grandma.”

That’s continued ever since she started making and posting her grandmother’s reactions.

“Now, she talks to me more about fashion and her interests, more of an adult sort of friendship relationship that we have now,” she said. “I think that she’s now able to not only see me as her granddaughter, but also see me as a friend. As someone who’s also interested in fashion. We definitely have more of a peer relationship, as opposed to before all these videos.”

As for her own fashion creative journey, Julia has always loved to create and wear vintage styles, partially from the influence of her grandmother. “I’ve always loved vintage,” she said.

Being around her stylish grandma certainly helped.

“She grew up in the Depression era, where you would hold on to everything that you have. I remember going over to her condo growing up, and there would just be beautiful, sparkly old things,” said Julia.

Of the designs she’s recreated for her grandma, the “Moulin Rouge”-inspired black and blue ballet dress stands out. “I think that one’s currently my favorite because I didn’t make too many mistakes,” she said.

What does the future hold for Julia?

“I didn’t see myself being a content creator, let alone a fashion content creator. That wasn’t something that I thought was in the cards for me,” she said.

“So, I’m not really sure what the future holds. My main focus is just having fun with grandma doing these videos, enjoying time with her. And then after the dust settles, we’ll see where we want to take it from there.”

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