Designer GIGI BURRIS Brings a New School Approach to an Old School Craft
By Eden Herbstman
Tucked away in the Lower East Side is home to designer Gigi Burris’s studio. An intimate space showcasing her collection of couture headpieces, while decorated with bits of her own downtown-cool personality. It’s a world where high fashion meets casual, and elements of surprise are around every corner–just like her one of kind creations.
Gigi is one of those rare young designers today with an old soul and some nostalgia for luxury fashion. Her design vision as a milliner stretches back in time for an appreciation of her business’s roots, and upscale quality luxury is mixed with a modern edge. “There are a lot of traditional millinery materials in addition to very avant-garde materials, like alligator skin, water snake, and other exotic skins.” A proud Floridian native, Gigi makes sure to represent this aspect of her life through her collection. She showcases her talents and techniques by molding, for example, what was once the skin of an alligator into a flower accompaniment on a chic headpiece. She knows the ins and outs of her industry and can make the process of hand dying the feathers from the under belly of a turkey into a poetic art.
Above her work space a mood board is mounted displacing themes of darkness and femininity, both qualities that are persistent in her collections season after season. She’s found the perfect marriage between delicate and goth, which manifest through rough textures and dainty craftsmanship.
After graduating from Parsons The New School For Design her break out moment came when Rihanna took a special liking to her hats which had been a part of her senior capsule collection. “They had sent them as an option on set at a shoot with W Magazine. I guess she was looking through the clothes and asked if she could take them with her. To have someone like that take an interest in my pieces was very encouraging. This gave me the confidence to pursue my own brand.” A quick interest from Rihanna isn’t a bad way to embark on the path into the fashion world, but what sets Gigi apart is her dedication to the craft of truly being a modern day milliner. “To have a luxury item that is slowly and locally made is the antithesis of our current fashion climate. I truly believe fashion will return to this slower luxury, that holds dear to my heart. There aren’t many milliner’s left, so it is a very niche market.” What’s next for Gigi is a nine piece exclusive in store collaboration with VFILES launching in August.
Gigi Burris is a milliner living in New York City. She has a showroom in London, and her sale show room is located in Paris. Gigi grew up in Florida, and graduated form Parsons The New School for Design.
Written by Eden Herbstman
Design by Marie Havens
Photography by Coco Alexander
Gigi Burris in New York City, 2013, Photography by Coco Alexander