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Behind The Scenes

Gigi Burris’s Five Can’t-Miss Spots in Paris

The neon sign outside of Hôtel Amour in Montmartre. Though milliner Gigi Burris calls NYC home, she draws a lot of inspiration from the French fashion capital—and sources plenty of material there too, including some extra-special grosgrain that she used to create her Of a Kind edition that comes out tomorrow. Here, she opens up about the places she’s itching to hit the second she lands at CDG. UltraMod“I found this shop in the Marais when I was living in the neighborhood while studying abroad. It’s actually two shops: One sells grosgrain and buttons, and the other sells millinery supplies. It’s been around since the late 1800s, and some of the felts they have are ones they made for the Queen of England. Once those materials are used, they won’t exist anymore. There’s something really romantic about that.”(3 and 4 Rue de Choiseul) Le Perle“My favorite bar actually happens to be the same bar that the whole Galliano scandal happened in. It’s like a little dive, but it’s a fashion dive. I lived down the street, and I’d go there all the time after work for a Kir Royale or Campari on the rocks. People spill out onto the street, and you see fashion people you recognize, like Kris Van Assche, the designer of Dior Homme. I don’t know if there’s an equivalent sort of place in New York.”(78 Rue Vieille du Temple) Hôtel Amour“It used to be a brothel. Each room has one those incredible tubs, and I stayed in a room once that had a massive vintage Playboy collection. There’s this beautiful outdoor garden and charming little outdoor restaurant underneath that has the most amazing cheeseburgers you’ve ever had. ”(8 Rue de Navarin; hotelamourparis.fr) Antiquités de L’Ile Saint Louis“This is the one of the most well-curated antique shops I have ever seen. It’s super high-end. Fancy French women go there to unload stuff. The space is pretty unassuming—you wouldn’t walk in unless it was something you kind of knew. The furniture is amazing, and it’s so Paris that you could come home with this incredible sixties Balenciaga bag.”(20 Rue des Deux Ponts; isl-antiquites.com) Père Lachaise Cemetery“There’s such an eerie sense being in a cemetery where so many incredible people are buried. I love to go in the fall when it’s crisp. It’s tough to get to on shorter trips because it’s in a weird part of Paris—but getting there becomes an adventure, too.”(Principal entrance: Rue de Repos) Make sure you don’t miss out on the edition Gigi made for us (with some ridiculously beautiful French materials). Sign up for our email list.
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Gigi Burris and her Alligator

A stuffed alligator made for Gigi by her friend/assistant. Gigi Burris, the sunny designer behind a millinery line of the same name, grew up in gator country, and her dad is one of her main suppliers of the skins, which she uses season-to-season as accents on hats, headbands, and, more recently, to make thin little bracelets. “My parents have orange groves, and my dad usually finds the gators there,” she says. “He tries to give me one or two per year—they’re huge, like eight feet long.” Here, a tour of some of the skins she’s been using and what she’s learned working with the material. “We take my dad’s skins to a tannery in Florida. It’s about making sure that when you shoot it, you put it on ice relatively fast. With the tannery, there’s a lead time of two to three months, and you can pick the color and all that. My dad tried to do a DIY redneck job in the backyard once—to dry the skin himself. It was stinky and rotting.” “Florida gators are really big. We have so much phosphate in the water that they end up having really large scales. ” “I also order skins from a tannery, and they tend to be smaller and softer. This is from Thailand, where a lot of alligators come from. The prettiest part of the gator is the belly.” “I made this as a summer hat for myself—it’s straw with an alligator band. It’s funny—it is a really small group of people who work with that material, so it’s cool that it’s so close to me and my home.” Get on our email list to get word about the edition Gigi made for Of a Kind first!
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Gigi on Hat-Making Tricks

Though the Lower East Side-based designer Gigi Burris got plenty of technical training at Parsons, making the leap into headwear required an entirely new set of skills. These are the three crafts she’s currently mastering to stay on top of her game. See how Gigi has put her abilities to good use: Check out the intricate grosgrain, leather, and feather headbands she created for Of a Kind. 1) Getting to know the hat forms.“Blocking is when you choose the shape of the hat. There are wooden blocks—I work with a guy who has hundreds and hundreds. You can go and choose your particular style or have one carved, which is pretty expensive. You really don’t know until you get a trained eye exactly what a block might translate into. And you really don’t know what proportions might work or what might not work.” 2) Sewing skins.“In fur, you can’t have a seam allowance—that extra little edge of fabric around a seam—because it would be so bulky. This machine makes the materials flush. It’s really difficult to use. I’m still learning. It can take people ten years to master something like this.” 3) Navigating the wonderful world of feathers.“There are lots of different kinds of feathers, and you can manipulate them according to their properties. Ostrich feathers are really delicate—I like to bundle them. This is one of my favorite feathers—it’s called peacock flue. And for the Of a Kind headband, I’m knotting turkey feathers. Each type gives a different feeling.”
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