Designer Spotlight: Gigi Burris

by Marquila Herrera

Like many others, I first heard of Gigi Burris when she was in the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund competition. This Florida native impressed me with her passion and commitment to a commonly forgotten craft. She created GIGI BURRIS MILLINERY in 2009 and has developed her brand at a surprising rate for a small business. In case you do not know what a millinery is (like most people), it is the formal name for a shop that sells women’s hats. However, her millinery creates more than just hats, as beautiful as they are. She also designs headbands, fascinators, crowns, and dabbled in other related accessories during the CFDA competition such as a hat box made of crocodile skin.

Gigi was inspired by the traditional craft and wanted to be a part of that community. Her interest was enhanced, and perhaps solidified, when she was studying in France and visiting their local Old World shops. Upon her return, she began studying under the milliner Leah Chalfen and went on as her apprentice. No longer a student, Gigi Burris moved up in the ranks and became a respected designer in her own right. She’s been featured in fashion magazines around the world including Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Italia and Numero. She’s also caught the eyes of some celebrities like “The Man Repeller” Leandra Medine, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna, to name just a few.

Gigi’s work varies from the most wearable to the most avant garde, her bridal collection being no exception. Many of her headbands and hats could be worn on a daily basis to amp up a casual outfit. Some of her other pieces, like the large hats, are more like individual works of art that would not be worn frequently, but when they are worn, would look amazing. Even if you cannot tell the difference between a porkpie and a boater hat, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the artistry and craft of her work. Millinery may be an old fashioned skill, but with designers like Gigi Burris, it will surely have a secure place in the future.