Early in 1960, the Episcopal Church Women of St. John’s in Chester were discussing new ways to raise money for the charities they supported. One of the younger members, Ginny Windsor, suggested a fashion show luncheon, an activity that had been very successful at a church she had attended in Hopewell. After some discussion, the ladies decided to try Ginny’s idea and a fashion show committee, consisting of Agnes Evans, Pam Cline, Myra Maughan, Gee Gee Gates, Joyce Goodloe, Emma Porter, Celia Beary and Dr. Louise Clark, was formed.
The first fashion show was held in St. John’s old parish hall and featured a home-made salad luncheon and fashions from Peebles department store modeled by ladies of St. John’s. The fundraiser was a big success, and thus began a 50-year tradition for the ECW and Chester.
Through the years, money raised from the fashion show has been used to support local organizations, such as the Bensley-Bermuda Rescue Squad, Chester Enon Volunteer Fire Department and Crater Hospice, as well as to help fund the Louise Clark Memorial Scholarship given each spring to a graduate of Thomas Dale or L.C. Bird who plans a medical career.
For the ECW, the fashion show has proven to be more than a fundraiser. Over the years, it has provided a special opportunity for fellowship as all of the women of St. John’s work together to provide the 30 to 40 salads required, staff the kitchen during the luncheon, serve the more than 100 guests and model the clothes. Ask any lady of St. John’s about the fashion show and she is sure to have a memory to share, like the time a very proper matron appeared in a gorgeous peignoir set, causing the embarrassed young rector to blush!
This year’s fashion show luncheon, Fifty Years of Fashion, will be held on Thursday, May 6 at noon in the church’s parish hall, and will feature sizzling summer fashions from Peebles. Tickets for the event are $12 and must be purchased in advance by calling 748-0334.