You’ve probably heard Gigi Burris‘ name already—Rihanna wore one of her hats in W, they’ve been featured in Self Service, Elle, The Last Magazine and even on Ugly Betty. But who is she and where’d she come from? We asked.
Fashionista: So, you’re a milliner?
Gigi Burris: I recently graduated from Parsons School of Design, where I was nominated for Designer of the Year. Since then I started my own namesake line of couture hats and made to order garments.
Fashionista: How did you get from there to here so quickly?
GB: When presenting my senior thesis to some pretty major industry professionals, the response was mainly on the seven couture hats I crafted to accompany my collection. I apprenticed with a couture milliner the summer prior to my senior year in school, and have always had a love for headwear. It was no question it would play a major role in my Parsons thesis. Stylists, celebrities and buyers had a strong reaction to the hats specifically, so it was a natural progression to keep producing them. It’s been less than a year since I started, but I’ve been so blessed with the support I’ve received.
Fashionista: What do you love about your job? Hate?
GB: I love that I have an outlet for true unfiltered creativity. I find so much joy in making the hats. I adore the craft, working with my hands, and being able to produce something from start to finish. I’m so grateful that at 23 I have a platform on which to showcase my own vision. I hate that my manicure doesn’t last for more than a few days, ever. I am constantly working with wire, glue, feathers, etc, and it shows with working girl hands.
Fashionista: There are about a million kids who want to be fashion designers right now, why do you think you’ve succeeded?
GB: I’ve been so incredibly blessed with the support of friends that work in the industry. I also think that being gracious, appreciative, and kind goes along way in a town of people that are sometimes not so nice to work with. I also think I offer something unique in the market right now. Customers want something special, a luxury item not everyone else is going to have. There’s a need for a younger voice in the millinery world.
Fashionista: Do you prefer designing hats or clothes?
GB: Hats are the icing on the cake. I believe that they’re necessary to my complete design vision. At the moment, I prefer designing hats because they bring me so much happiness! But I went to Parsons to train in clothing design and that will always be my true passion. Chanel, Lanvin, they all began as milliners. It’s an incredible craft, that at this point allows me to make a statement in the fashion world. The art of making couture hats translates into clothing in the high standards of construction, and has absolutely influenced the way I design clothing.
Fashionista: What’s something no one knows about you?
GB: I’m a nationally ranked synchronized swimmer. I was state solo-champion multiple years in a row! We would wear the most intricate sequined bathing suits, and incredible headpieces.
Fashionista: What do you want to be doing in ten years?
GB: I’d like to have a large platform from which to project my aesthetic. I’d love to work for a major house that I admire, Elsa Schiaparelli’s re-launch would be a dream. If my brand continues to grow, I see a full runway ready to wear collection in ten years, no doubt.