5 Things Inspiring Gigi Burris, Milliner to Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna

Kyleigh Kuhn wears Gigi Burris Millinery for the AW14 lookbook, photographed by Alexander Wagner. Available at gigiburris.com

Nothing and no one has put the stylish public into quite the frenzy over headwear the way Gigi Burris has recently. Before our sartorial love affair with the milliner started, it was primarily royal weddings and outlandish street style snaps where you could see hats and fascinators in action. The fascinators especially always felt a bit silly. It would take a real talent to make this kind of adornment cool, but guess what? Burris has done it.

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Kyleigh Kuhn wears Gigi Burris Millinery for the AW14 lookbook, photographed by Alexander Wagner. Available at gigiburris.com

Celebs as diverse as Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Angelina JolieJessica Alba, Lady Gaga, and Rita Ora have trotted out Gigi Burris Millinery creations. Tilda Swinton sported a custom piece in a recent Nars campaign. Ohne Titel collaborated with the milliner for highly covetable “underbun” pieces for its spring collection (this editor is on the waiting list for one). Model Constance Jablonski is spotted regularly in hers. Basically, hats and headpieces are on the It-List again, and the one everyone wants is Gigi Burris.

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Kyleigh Kuhn wears Gigi Burris Millinery for the AW14 lookbook, photographed by Alexander Wagner. Available at gigiburris.com

As we head into fashion week, (it’s in two weeks!) Gigi Burris’s fall collection is on our brain — what will she have in store for us? The designer shares with us what’s inspiring her most right now. Hopefully it will inspire you, too.

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“Simon Doonan’s The Asylum — A really insightful book written with his signature wit.” (Available here.)

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“Yuzu — I can’t get enough of the flavor! I love having having yuzu flavored soda for a bright drink in the dead of winter.” (Available here.)

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“Niia Bertino’s new EP Generation Blue. I can listen to it while working all day long.” (Available here.)

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“Hyacinth Flowers — Still so gorgeous and beautifully scented in the winter time.”

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“Helmut Lang’s new exhibition at the Sperone Westwater Gallery.” (257 Bowery, NYC)

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Installation view courtesy of Sperone Westwater

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Hats! Are You Ready?

Gigi Burris spring 2015 presentation at Gallow Green, courtesy of BFA

Three’s a trend, right? Then we’re all in for some chic headwear this spring.

Donna Karan did it her way (loftily aspirational, I’d say):

And Gigi Burris is doing it a few ways. How chic are these? So very, “come for light lunch at my country house’s east garden, darling.”
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And on a totally different note entirely, how cool are these pieces that same designer made for the Ohne Titel show? It’s called a horsehair underbun. These are my level. I can get down with some Gigi Burris x Ohne Titel.

These underbuns make a messy bun not just acceptable but lust-worthy. Can you deal?!

Are you ready for it?

Sebastian Professional’s It Girl: Gigi Burris

It’s with good reason that Gigi Burris was chosen as Sebastian Professional’s latest “It Girl.” The accomplished 23-year-old milliner and fashion designer—a workaholic whose presence on the New York fashion scene is a constant—juggles the demands of her growing company, Gigi Burris Millinery, with her packed social calendar. “Meeting new people is less about networking and more about building genuine relationships,” she says.

The Florida native, who graduated from Parsons only two years ago, has showcased her unique hats and accessories in the pages of Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Italian Vogue, while her fans include fashion authorities like Cecilia Dean and Rihanna. “It was funny when Rihanna’s rep asked if it would be okay for her to keep some of my hats after a shoot,” she says, laughing. “I was still in school at the time. How could I not let Rihanna keep my school project?”

Burris’ biggest supporter is perhaps Elle Fashion Director and fashion muse Kate Lanphear. Heralded for her distinctive style and discerning eye, Lanphear regularly taps Burris for the designer’s new accessories and unique alligator-skin pieces. “Kate asked me to make her some pieces for Fashion Week last September,” Burris says. “We’ve been friends for years and I’m just now beginning to realize what an impact she has. It’s incredibly flattering that she believes in me.”

Although Burris looks to her core group of creative friends for inspiration—not to mention support—she models her career after the ultimate fashion icon, Coco Chanel. “I read her biography all the time to remind myself how much work and perseverance it takes in this industry,” she says. “She started as a milliner and ended up building a grand empire. There’s something romantic about following in the footsteps of someone that incredible.” Another thing she’s learned from her role model? To seek out and embrace new experiences. “My hair for the shoot was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” she says. “I was obsessed! I wore it out after the shoot and showed it off to all of my friends.”

From Rainy Day Wet Heads to Fête Heads

Some people fear hats. They fear them like Ben Barna fears hairy spiders. I can see why — some hats are very scary. Some just look dumb. But the biggest problem with the whole hat thing is that hats become horrific when people don’t own them. Not like they’ve shoplifted them from Bloomie’s, but they don’t wear them like the fashion staples they are. They reluctantly smash them down on their uncombed mane to cover up a bad hair day, or deal with the crap weather (today’s included). They have a couple of baseball caps, maybe a weird beret of sorts — none of which really goes with anything they are wearing, and they trudge through their day, convinced they have to scrap fashion for plain function. In a city where the elements are temperamental, hats can be a beauty savior to even the haughtiest of style snobs.

Gigi Burris gets that. Why shove unruly hair under a beanie when a beanie isn’t your style? Why don’t you just encourage the madness? Her hair pieces and hats are near caricatures of that sentiment. Feathered headbands, pillbox hats, leather boaters, tiny round fez-like caps with feather plumes, and mini-porkpie toppers round out her collections; refreshing, as when was the last time you wore a leather boater? I can picture fashionable Brits scooping them up (they certainly have weather issues across the pond). I’ll bet Daphne Guinness would be a fair-weathered fan. On the home front, Burris says her toppers are for any gal who wants to get noticed, appreciates quality, and “sometimes needs a glamorous accessory to mask greasy hair.” Boom Boom Room glamorous, instant hit at The Box, downtown. Sure, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but that probably means your tea is a beanie, which is fine for you, but not for Daphne.

image Burris’ collaboration with Julie Haus.