Gigi Burris: Thoroughly Modern Milliner
If Gigi Burris has her way, soon enough, every street-style star (not just Anna Dello Russo) will be wearing her statement-making headgear. “Getting dressed used to mean planning out an outfit that was truly head-to-toe, and while today there’s more of an emphasis on casualness, I think there’s also a major resurgence in ladylike dressing,” Burris (pictured) tells Style.com. The 25-year-old up-and-comer first got into millinery while studying design at Parsons. “I was abroad in Paris and fell in love with the chapelleries there. When I came back to New York, I signed up for a hatmaking class, but they nearly canceled the course because there weren’t enough students interested, so I got my friends to sign up,” she said. “When I was creating my ready-to-wear collections for school, I always included hats because I thought the looks were incomplete without them, and eventually they became my focus.” Burris lucked out and found a mentor in couture milliner Leah Chalfen, who really invested time and effort in training Burris as an apprentice. “I love the old-world, romantic aspect to the craft,” she said, explaining how she draws inspirations from luxurious materials like felt, ostrich, and exotic skins (she even sources some of the gator skins from her family’s property in Florida).
Her latest collection was inspired by dead palm trees. Featuring straw boater, panama, and wide-brimmed hats as well as a “crown of thorns” made from leather cording, the lineup evokes “a sad beach vacation that you have really high hopes for and it ends up raining.” Burris has also been collaborating with NAHM on the label’s upcoming Spring ’13 collection and expanding her brisk made-to-order business (the base price for custom pieces is $700). “I really love doing custom pieces because the women that want funny hats are the kind of women you want to sit down and have a long conversation with,” Burris explained. “Just look at icons like Anna Piaggi and Isabella Blow (R.I.P.), who really paved the way for girls who want to get daring with their headgear. Now with the popularity of street-style blogs, you see that the girls who wear hats and know how to wear them well are definitely the ones getting attention.” Speaking of, we wouldn’t be surprised if we see more than a few of those Tommy Ton stars pop up next month wearing Burris numbers.