Hat trick

February 19, 2014

Ever since she was a little girl, June Baranco Gumbel has had a thing for hats. Now she has turned that affinity into a budding career, Geaux Chapeaux.

The Baton Rouge native is returning home Feb. 15 to showcase some of her latest creations for “Tea, Fashion & Fancies” at the LSU Rural Life Museum. The event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the LSU Textile & Costume Museum and benefits both museums.

Very apropos considering Gumbel, ex-wife of TV broadcaster Bryant Gumbel, is a graduate of LSU. She finished in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in fine art.

That creativity easily translated into custom millinery when she became frustrated by what she found when shopping for daughter Jillian’s 2011 wedding.

“I couldn’t believe the prices of these headpieces! ” exclaimed Gumbel in a phone interview as she was working on several Mardi Gras hats to bring to the tea party. “I knew I could make something equally as beautiful, if not more so, for a lot less money.

“When I was small, we wore hats all the time,” she continues. “I’ve always liked some sort of adornment in my hair, and over the years, I’ve assembled quite a collection of vintage hats. So, I started taking them apart, studying how they were made.”

Figuring it out wasn’t too hard, she says.

Bryant says her Aunt Eura was a seamstress and taught her to sew by hand when she was only 8 or 9 years old. For her 10th birthday, her parents, Jeannie Baranco and the late Joseph Baranco, gave her a sewing machine. “I still have it,” she says proudly.

Once Gumbel figured out how the hats were made, she began collecting vintage millinery supplies — fabrics, hat blocks, lace, ribbons and more.

“I became the eBay queen,” she says, laughing. “You may have velvet ribbon, but do you have velvet ribbon in every color? In every size? And grosgrain ribbon. Not any grosgrain ribbon will do. It has to be Petersham grosgrain ribbon.”

Year No. 2 had Gumbel buying many vintage hats and making hats full time.

“It’s fun,” she says. “This is my calling. I’ve found out what I’m supposed to do.”

She still paints, primarily in pastels but also in oil, but hats and making a success of Geaux Chapeax is where Gumbel is focusing all her time these days.

And, she’s looking forward to coming home to Baton Rouge to show off her latest creations.

“New York feels like home,” she says, “but I have to have a steady dose of Baton Rouge … my culture.

“Making hats is another creative outlet that inspires me … makes me happy.”

To read the full article, visit June Gumbel throws her designs in the ring with upcoming show

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LSU Tea, Hats and Fancies event was a big success. The event was sold out and was the most financially successful one ever. Spring is definitely in the air ... most ladies were dressed in their favorite hat. It was very colorful and in the spirit of the tea!

Thank you to everyone who attended and to everyone who helped to make it such a success !

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June is excited that her most favorite color, radiant orchid, has been named Pantone's 2014 Color.  

One of our fascinators, the F-1008 Radiant Orchid, is available at Geaux Chapeaux

We are delighted to offer custom designs here at Geaux Chapeaux, and look forward to hearing from you.

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Looking for a custom look this winter for your holiday parties?  Now's the time to plan for spring as well with a custom hat for women designed by June Gumbel.

Turn to Geaux Chapeaux Millinery for your unique look this holiday season and this spring

Contact us today at

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Geaux Chapeaux has a variety of custom designs available for your night on the town.  Based in Westchester, we can ship our hats to anywhere in the world.  Some of our clients live in New York, Saratoga Springs, Greenwich and other areas where custom millinery is admired and cherished.

Contact us today at

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Welcome to my Millinery Studio
Sometimes dreams do come true !!!
The thought of being a Milliner began as a germ of a thought ... and now, after two and a half years of research, gathering materials, trial and error, practical application, graduating from simple fascinators to blocked felt hats; in all shapes and sizes, building a millinery studio, learning how to create a business and now, BLOGGING.
My first year was spent on research and acquiring vintage items and supplies ... I became the EBay Queen. Pretty soon I learned there was no end to acquiring goods. You may have velvet ribbon ... but do you have velvet ribbon in every color and in every size (width)? The same applies for grosgrain ribbon. I became aware, in a short time, that not any grosgrain ribbon will do ... it has to be Petersham grosgrain ribbon. I'll blog about that at another time ...
My second year was spent acquiring additional  materials while still making hats full time. I learned a great deal by buying vintage hats in "lots" ... and ripping them apart.  During this process I was able to combine my talent as an artist with my knack for sewing to expand my passion for making hats, producing individual works of art in each piece. The past six months have been spent in full speed ... balancing the fun part of making hats with the not so fun part of making it a business ... and designing a studio to call home to my dreams.
Although the business aspect of this process is not my favorite because I am a creative being, I am elated to be starting this blog and sharing my journey with you. I am a visionary, I love making hats!!!   Along this journey I look forward to helping others realize their love for hats and explore the new looks and attitude the right hat can bring!  It all starts with taking the first step and having the confidence to learn more and being open to making a new friend along the way.
To all my new friends , I would like to introduce myself.  I am June Gumbel an Artist and a Milliner.  Welcome to Geaux Chapeaux Millinery, I hope my passion for hats will lead to a new, refreshingly fun chapter in your life.  Enough reading... explore my custom works of art and let me know your thoughts.
Here's a glimpse of the Southwest wing of my studio.

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