1913, Budapest, in the heart of Europe as World War I approaches. The young Irisz Leiter arrives in the Hungarian capital with high hopes to work as a milliner at Leiter, the legendary hat store that once belonged to her late parents; but she is quickly sent away by the new owner, Oszkár Brill. While preparations are under way at the store to host important wealthy, royal guests, a man abruptly comes to Irisz looking for Kálmán Leiter, who he says is her brother. Refusing to leave the city, the young woman follows Kálmán's tracks, her only link to a lost past. Her quest brings her through the dark, dusty streets of Budapest, where only the Leiter hat store shines, into the turmoil of a civilization on the eve of its downfall.