When it comes to vintage fashion, it doesn’t get much more authentic, or engaging, than Bernadette Banner.
Bernadette Banner is a dress historian who makes videos on a weekly basis with an emphasis on American and English clothing styles from the 10th century through to the introduction of the electric sewing machine in the early 20th century. Over the last few years, she has grown an audience of 955,000 avid viewers.
How she got started
She graduated from New York University in 2017 with a degree in costume design. Beyond YouTube, she has a professional background in the theater industry. She has worked in the costume department for Broadway runs of Annie in 2012, Aladdin in 2013, and Something Rotten! in 2015. Currently, she has found enough success to make her independent work a full-time job, allowing her more time to focus on her personal design and reconstruction projects.
Despite being solely focused on the subject of historic dress, Bernadette’s channel features a wide variety of content. Many of her videos feature tutorials on historical sewing techniques. She then puts those techniques to use and crafts her own period-accurate pieces of clothing.
In addition to creating her own work, she also analyzes the costuming in films and other media, critiquing how accurate the clothing depicted is to what it actually would have been at the time. Occasionally, she will address the history of specific clothing trends, diving into detail on anything from corsets to plague gear to underwear and busting popular misconceptions along the way.
An eye for detail
Bernadette has made a definite name for herself and sticks out from the many other dress-focused channels. She has a strong background with every topic she brings to her videos, and viewers can immediately pick up on the expertise behind everything she says. Rather than merely touching on basic elements of a subject she wants to talk about, she goes into great detail about technique, history, trends and more. She paints vivid pictures when she speaks instead of hitting bullet points, and that extreme attention to minutiae carries over to how she practices the craft herself.
What sets her apart
While many talented designers can make detailed replicas of historic clothing, Bernadette Banner makes a point to fully conform to the methods and equipment of the times. Besides the occasional use of a hand-cranked sewing machine, she sews the vast majority of her pieces by hand. Naturally, this makes every process more difficult and time-consuming, but it also makes each piece more unique and authentic, and closer to the clothing of the past than any machine could manage.
In the past, she has even gone so far as to dye her own fabric true to the time period, down to the techniques and materials used. She strives for authenticity, not only for the sake of historical accuracy but, as she puts it, “to discover how we can implement historical practices in 21st-century life in order to live a bit more sustainably.”
In a world that focuses a great deal on aesthetics, Bernadette has managed to make a career entirely based on one. Many people love the look of vintage clothing and the feelings they invoke, yet they don’t often know much of their background. Bernadette’s work fills that hole, exploring the intimate details of both how and why different articles and styles of clothing were made. Beyond just addressing it, though, her channel lives and breathes that aesthetic itself.
Bernadette almost solely wears period clothing of her own design in all of the videos she makes. Her backgrounds where she shoots also seem like they could have been taken right out of history rather than existing in today’s modern world. This all serves to make not only the content but the very act of watching any of her videos elicit the satisfying feelings that come with being immersed in a beautiful setting in days past.
Why not share your passions on YouTube?
Bernadette’s success in making a career out of sheer passion and interest stands as a fantastic example to anyone looking to make their own place online. Maybe not everyone would identify themselves as an avid lover of period-accurate fashion design, but nearly one million people have still flocked to her channel. Hundreds of thousands of viewers tune in each week to see her new content, and it’s no secret why. Her deep love of what she does is clear in every video, and few things are as enthralling as watching someone talk in detail about their passion.
Creators everywhere should take note of what she has been able to do by focusing on what she loves. She goes to great lengths not just to talk about what she loves but why she loves it and why others should as well. This philosophy can be applied by anyone to almost any subject matter. People love to see the passion, and, as long as it’s as pure and authentic as Bernadette Banner’s, people can and will love yours.