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Joy Bianchi, legendary fashionista's boutique helps the handicapped

Joy Bianchi at Opera Gala
Joy Bianchi at Opera Gala
SF Chronicle

Who is Joy Bianchi? Whether you're a native San Franciscan or a newbie, you may have run into Joy in her peripatetic journey through life. Known for her trendsetting fashion sense and her trademark black framed eyeglasses, she made vintage clothing popular to a host of admirers. A diminuitive woman of boundless energy, a style icon and philanthropist, Joy Venturini Bianchi has made it her life's work to assist the developmentally disabled of San Francisco since she was 9 years of age.

Most recently, she was spotted at the San Francisco Opera's opening gala this weekend in a stunning blue sheath. Never one to shun the spotlight, this lovable octogenarian is always out and about, spreading her infectious love of life, culture, fashion, and people. But on weekdays, you'll find her at her vintage fashion shop.

Tucked away just downstairs from the main Ghirardelli Plaza, the Helper's Bazaar at Ghirardelli Square is a treasure trove of high-end vintage fashion -- vintage shoes, gowns, watches, bags, dresses, hats, jewelry, and other accessories. Her collection of vintage fashion illustrations and holiday ornaments is unique. It's perhaps the only such shop in San Francisco, and certainly the most heartwarming.

Joy's devotion to the retarded includes overseeing an annual Helpers House of Couture in August and a holiday preview cocktail party at the Ghirardelli Square boutique. SF socialites often donate their vintage couture to Helper's Bazaar, whose proceeds help the handicapped.

So, next time you're in the Marina or Ghirardelli Square neighborhood, find a little Joy.

Helpers Bazaar in Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point Street – Lower Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 441-0779

© Copyright 2011 Mary Holman. All rights reserved. This article and content may not be republished, rewritten or excerpted.


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