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25 years of phi mu fashion
Story by Audrey Hanes, Photo by Amy Long

For the past 25 years, Phi Mu sorority’s area alumnae have held a fashion show to benefit Arkansas Children’s Hospital. This year, the Phi Mu Fashion Show celebrates its quarter-century anniversary with a special show, aptly titled “25 Runway Years.” Many of the participating volunteers and retailers have been involved since the sorority’s first show in Jonesboro, making this a momentous and nostalgic charitable event for many.

“The real star of the fashion show is the Arkansas Children’s Hospital,” said Aylia Poston, an Arkansas State University and Phi Mu alumna who has been a part of the show since its inception. “As a former classroom teacher, I have spent my life with children and their welfare is important.

“As a Phi Mu collegiate, we learned about commitment, community service, helping others and touching lives. Working with a dedicated group of Phi Mu ladies, the stores and the people in my community has been such a pleasure for me for so many years.”

Ashley Day, who was a Phi Mu at The University of Mississippi, has been involved with the Phi Mu Fashion Show for the past 19 years, emceeing 17 of them.

“Philanthropy was an important part of being a Phi Mu,” said Day. “Phi Mu was the first sorority to establish an annual National Philanthropy Day to promote local service by its members. ... I have been involved in the Phi Mu Fashion Show since I moved back to Jonesboro in 1994. As a Phi Mu alumna, I got involved with the local alumnae chapter as soon as I moved back to Jonesboro.”

Poston said that the fashion show, which also benefits the pediatric wings of NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital and St. Bernards Medical Center, wouldn’t be possible without the many dedicated women and businesses that have been involved for all 25 years.

“This is truly a group effort,” said Poston. “This is a special year because it is the 100th anniversary of Arkansas Children’s Hospital and our 25th year for the fashion show. We have ladies that have attended the show for many years, with some coming from areas outside of Jonesboro. It’s a great time to see Phi Mus from other areas.”

At the annual event, attendees will enjoy lunch, a fashion show and door prizes from local retailers. More than 300 people attended the show last year, and organizers are expecting even more this year because of the event’s milestone.

In addition to Enhancements Boutique, a local store that has been involved with the annual fashion show for each of its 25 years, this year’s participating retailers include Lundie’s of Trumann, which will be featuring jewelry from Sissy’s Log Cabin, Darlings of Newport, Chico’s, Eden Spa and Boutique, Gearhead, Clark’s Bridal and Formal, Steamroller Blues, RockStar, Design Shoppe and Glo of Paragould.

Day credits Poston as a main reason why the event is such a success each year.
“This event would not take place year after year if it weren’t for her,” said Day. “There are many awesome volunteers that help pull off a successful fashion show each August, but Aylia is the driving force behind the continued success.”
For Day, the fashion show is a family event; her sister, Shelby Sams, and her mother, Nina Thompson, also volunteer and help organize different aspects of the show.

“As I transitioned from a collegiate to a working woman, I knew I would stay involved in service projects for my community,” said Day. “Now, I am proud to work with my sister, mother and many other invaluable Phi Mu alumnae to help make the Jonesboro Phi Mu Fashion Show a relevant and successful event to benefit the children’s wings of our local hospitals, as well as Little Rock’s Children’s Hospital, which benefits our entire state.

“I love that we have women who have attended this fashion show every year since its beginning. Their loyalty in supporting such a great cause is humbling, and I love that we have stores that participate year after year. Our community has such a rich resource of equally successful locally-owned boutiques and chain-retail stores, and the ones who participate have a true heart for giving back to the community.”

The 25th annual Phi Mu Fashion Show and Luncheon will be presented on Aug. 9 at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn. Tickets are $20. Call 932-5125 for tickets or for more information. Space is limited, so tickets must be purchased prior to the show. Music will be provided by Pat Qualls.