Milliner Gigi Burris on finding her passion, with help from an American Girl.

Grace Corton (left) in a Gigi Burris fascinator, photographed by Bruce Weber for VMan 33

When I was in the fourth grade, my mom and I went to colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia, to see how Felicity — my favorite American Girl doll — [would have] lived.

In town, there were these amazing millinery shops that trimmed hats on site. I’ve always loved hats, and my mom let me pick whichever one I wanted; I chose a fabulous green bonnet made from natural straw with hunter green and cream satin ribbons that tied at the neck.

I thought it was SO elegant, and didn’t take it off the entire trip.

A selection of Burris’s designs, photographs courtesy of Gigi Burris

[Later in life], I fell in love with the idea of romantic nostalgia, which inspired me to pursue millinery, a non-traditional occupation that preserves a centuries-old craft.

Putting on that hat in Williamsburg was such a special moment — so transformative and emotional — and it definitely resonates with me in my career today.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Fashion enthusiast James Goldstein shares favorite hats from his extensive wardrobe, designer Timo Weiland takes The Thick Questionnaire.

Far left and right: Burris’s pieces shot by Samantha Casolari for Vogue Italia April 2015; center left: a ca. 1930s hat shot by Cecil Beaton for American Vogue; center right: sketch courtesy of Gigi Burris