Arts & Culture

The Derby Hat According to Gigi Burris

The couture hat designer shares her Derby-worthy picks

Gigi Burris knows hats. A born-and-bred Floridian trained at Parsons the New School for Design, Burris turned her passion for the age-old art of millinery into a full-time career, launching her line of couture hats in 2010. Although she’s now Manhattan-based, Burris’s career and identity are rooted in the South. She sources many of her decorative materials from the wild – everything from blue-winged teal feathers from her father’s Florida hunting escapades to gator skins from the swamps of the South.

A portrait of Gigi; a photo of Gigi’s White Garden Mohawk bridal headpiece.

“Southerners have a respect for millinery because of our appreciation for heritage and history,” Burris says. That respect will be readily apparent at this weekend’s Kentucky Derby. “The beautiful hats at the Derby are great examples of the glamour of a bygone era,” Burris says. “It’s one of the only events where we’re invited to bring that glamour back.”

Gigi at work in her Manhattan studio.

In honor of this weekend’s Run for the Roses, we asked Burris to give us her top ten picks for men’s and women’s Derby-worthy hats. But first a little advice: “Do not, for the love of God, decorate your hat with toy horses.” Apparently, that happened. Sorry we missed it.