For the Love of Style

Gigi K.

By Vivian Fuentebella Sanchez

Part of todays’ culture is that celebrities nowadays have instant access to an important part of their image: personal stylist.  San Francisco may have its local celebrities with stylists to boot but what about non- celebs who wish, want or need their own personal stylist? Enter this Filipina American in a Pixie haircut, bright coral lipstick and her “eclectic beatnik” style as she calls it.  Just a quick description of San Francisco personal stylist, Evangeline Guarin Karpf, also known as Gigi K.

I first met Gigi a couple years ago at Nida boutique, one of my favorite shops in the city. Immediately, I was drawn to her ease and her unique and smart style. I enjoyed her savvy advice and how she would never sell me an item, however fabulous, if it was not me at all. Although she left the boutique to spend more time with her family, Gigi became a friendly face who I would occasionally bump into in Union Square, the mecca of shopping in SF.  So it was quite expected good news when Gigi told me of her endeavor as a personal stylist. As a mom of two (she has boys, I have girls) I can understand the demands of raising kids, being a wife, working and yet trying to find that sliver of time for yourself and your interest.

Gigi’s love for styling began in early childhood. Born and raised in San Diego, California (Her Filipino parents moved to the states in 1959) Gigi’s mother would dress her and her sister alike with matching hair accessory that she eventually tweaked her outfits to make it more personal – a good foreshadow. Gigi later as an adult moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco and taught in an elementary school in SF’s Noe Valley but when motherhood called, she became a full time stay at home mom —C.E.O. of the H-O-M-E, I would call it.  Fashion had always been a constant in Gigi’s life but was unfortunately discouraged by her parents. However, once her kids were in school, Gigi on a whim, with nothing to lose, and no apparel retail experience, landed a job at giant retailer Anthropologie. She would later move on to manage uber chic boutique Nida for two years.

Gigi’s true passion is helping people find clothes that make them feel good about themselves and their bodies.  She even styled her kids’ nanny and took her on a surprise denim shopping trip on her birthday.  The confidence her clients would feel and project when the right piece is worn was and continues to be addicting and rewarding for Gigi.  Those “aha” moments (as Oprah would say) are what compelled Gigi to start her own personal styling business. Imagine having Gigi as your very own personal stylist for an event? Or just for wardrobe auditing, styling session, shopping session?!?  Gigi could even bring the clothes to you at home or at work.  It is a plus to know that despite not being in tinsel town, the bay area has access to a wonderful FilAm personal stylist – celebrity status not required.


Describe your style?

My style has changed since I cut my hair a few years back. I used to be more (I hate the word) bohemian when I had long hair. Now I think “eclectic beatnik” covers my many moods.


What made you decide to be a stylist?

Sometimes the best part of the party is getting ready. I’ve always loved putting outfits together and introducing a new accessory or combination to clients. I’m that person who strikes up conversations in the fitting room!  Styling feeds a creative part of me, my expression if you will. There are outfits just waiting to happen!


Biggest fashion influence?

That’s a tough one. When I think of “icon” I think of people like Loulou de la Falaise, Edie Sedgwick and Bianca Jagger who have made an imprint on fashion. But there’s a slew of people now who I think have fantastic style, among them: Elisa Nalin, Catherine Baba, Taylor Tomasi Hill and Lapo Elkann.


Favorite item in your close? In your bag?

My white Margiella glitter pumps. Not an everyday shoe but oh so good. Nars lipstick and Cedar goat milk lotion.


Your signature look?

Hmm, I like to dress according to my mood but I do have a few things in my wardrobe that have achieved workhorse status: button down shirts, skinny denim, Repetto flats.


Whose wardrobe closet would you most like to raid?

In addition to said icons? Linda Rodin, Marina Munoz and Jenna Lyons.


Any Filipino style from childhood that you best remember?

My parents belonged to the Dagupan City Club of San Diego. This group was their Filipino social circle in the states.  There were always potlucks and dances and my parents and their friends would dress me up to the nines.  I have memories of lavish up-dos, Ternos in large 70’s floral print fabrics and I’m a big fan of the Barong.


Style or look that describes San Francisco?

Comfortable layers with on trend flourishes.


Favorite places to shop in the Bay Area?

There are a lot of great places in the city but I have a soft spot for the shops in Hayes Valley- Reliquary, Cotton Sheep, Nida, Dish, Gimme, MAC, VerUnica —and you can get a nice cup of Joe and tastybites to feed your shopping spree. Not in the same hood, but Unionmade, General Store and Mill Mercantile are also worth mentioning.


Favorite places to style/people watch in the city?

Restaurants and Coffee bars.


What is your fashion pet peeve?

Head to toe designer lables.


Best advice from a stylist to give?

Pass on trends that don’t suit or flatter your body type.


Secrets from a stylist?

Tide stick and a good tailor!


You could contact Gigi at




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