The renowned milliner, whose hats are favored by celebrities and fashion magazines, partnered with Airbnb on a special Fashion Experience at her Chinatown studio, where guests created a veiled headpiece. Here, Burris shares her favorite New York spots.
GIGI BURRIS is one of the world’s most sought-after milliners. The fifth generation Floridian, who now calls Brooklyn home, started out studying fashion at Parsons. It was natural for Burris to design a hat for each ready-to-wear outfit and, following a year at Parsons Paris, she returned to NYC to apprentice as a couture milliner. “I fell in love with this idea of craft and working with my hands, and I knew I wanted to do something in that old school realm,” Burris says. “My thesis collection was nominated for designer of the year, and people were into the hats more than anything else because they’re so unique.”
Seven years on, Burris has built a mini millinery empire that supports local artisans and turns out everyday hats—from felt fedoras to straw berets—for high-end stores around the world, as well as extravagant bespoke headpieces, feathered and beribboned, for brides, fashion shoots, and celebrities. “Our blocking factory is three generations; our flower-maker has been in business for over 100 years. I’m on a first name basis with my vendors and it’s just such a beautiful, old romantic way of making things,” says Burris, whose big break was being part of the 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. “There’s certainly a nod to femininity,” she says of her work. “But at the same time, it’s a bit subversive. You’ll see in our gritty Chinatown studio, there’s definitely a downtown element—it’s not lady. There’s something a little darker about it but it still has an element of whimsy.”
Burris hosted a headpiece-making workshop in her Chinatown studio, where guests sipped champagne and tried on hats, scoring personal styling tips from the designer. For the occasion, Burris commissioned cookies from her favorite bakery, that makes fondant versions of her hats.
The intimate group was guided through the process of creating a voilette—a veiled headpiece made with fine grosgrain ribbon, delicate lace, and silk flowers, which they got to take home. “A voilette is a little face veil,” says Burris. “It’s quite an advanced skill! It’s not lame and crafty but something special that they will be able to wear.”
“I live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn but we recently moved our studio to Chinatown, so I find myself spending a lot of time there. It’s gritty for sure, but it’s a very New York experience.”
Experience in the Spotlight highlights visionary Airbnb Experience Hosts in their cities. Featuring experts including award-winning chefs, celebrated musicians, world-class architects, and professional athletes, we view each city through the eyes of local creatives as they share a wealth of insider tips, secret spots, favorite haunts, and the destinations that inspire their creativity.
Airbnb partnered with celebrity milliner Gigi Burris on an exclusive Experience in New York, where guests sipped champagne, got personal hat styling tips, and crafted a headpiece to take home.