Tue. Jan 31st, 2023

Gigi Burris is the milliner to know. With wearers including Rihanna and Hailey Bieber, Gigi’s headwear hits that sweet spot of cool and classic, and her pieces are also incredibly well made. There’s no wonder, then, that her brand has been picked up by leading stockists, including Net-a-Porter and Browns Fashion.

Championing traditional techniques, each item is handmade using established wood blocking techniques, and only the finest materials are employed. Cue rosgrain-trimmed handwoven straw fedoras, chunky braided headbands that are contemporary while giving the nod to romantic bygone times, and of course, there’s the summer staple in the form of the oversized sunhat. And they are gorgeous.

Gigi tells us about her eponymous brand, from aesthetic, to her customer and her favorite hat of the moment.

Felicity Carter: What was your first memory of style?

Gigi Burris: I learned how to sew with my grandmother, and I recall pouring through her Vogue pattern collection and dreaming of wearing one of the dresses on the cover of the envelope. She taught me the craft behind the dream, and we sewed clothes together for my dolls.

FC: How, when, and why did you get into the industry?

GB: I have always loved art and making things with my hands, so I knew at a young age that I wanted to pursue something creative. I studied fashion at Parsons School of Design with a focus on ready-to-wear. After a nomination for Designer of the Year, it was the hats that topped each look that drew the most distinction. During my studies, I had the opportunity to intern with my millinery teacher, Leah Chalfen. She was well known for couture feather work, which was a fantastic opportunity to learn from her.

FC: How would you sum up the aesthetic?

GB: Tradition with a twist of subversive. A hint of feminine without being girly. Assured and relaxed.

FC: What is luxury to you?

GB: Luxury is, above all, quality and craftsmanship.

FC: Who is your customer?

GB: We are very blessed to have an extremely varied client base, and as a small brand, I am able to interact with many of the individuals who come to our downtown studio. One trait that is common is an appreciation for quality and a sense of confidence.

FC: What are the cornerstones of your company?

GB: At Gigi Burris Millinery, we believe in local production and are dedicated to preserving the romantic craft of millinery. Each of our hats is blocked by hand using a centuries-old technique of molding material over carved wooden blocks. Each of our hair accessories is carefully draped and assembled by our millinery artisans.

FC: Which was the first-ever piece you designed, and how did it come about?

GB: I suppose the first pieces I designed and had the training to execute were in college. While the aesthetic direction has remained consistent, I am pleased to say that my millinery skills have improved after years of honing them.

FC: What is on your current mood board?

GB: Vintage tears of boater hats – feeling the boater shape at the moment. Accompanied by scraps of ribbons and velvet butterflies which you will see in our Autumn collection.

FC: Currently, which is your favorite headwear piece, and how do you wear it?

GB: The piece that I’ve been gravitating towards is the Ida. It is a technique we developed for this season, showcasing grosgrain ribbon sewn between braids of crochet raffia. This combination results in a fully packable hat with a resilient bounce back. I took this piece with me on a recent trip to Italy, and I’ve been wearing it to the beach for sun protection.

See more on gigiburris.com and check out Closely Crafted, the new nonprofit Gigi founded this year, dedicated to preserving craft in the American fashion industry.

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