On October 4th, I attended the Knoxville Academy of Medicine Alliance’s 65th annual Fashiondrama: Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful at Gettysvue Country Club. Each table is simply but beautifully decorated with Bucket of Beautiful centerpieces by ZPots and Vnoelle’s, and a slim rose gold pin with a jewel at the top rests at each place setting. Co-chairs Cynthia Gash & Robin Hutchins stand together as guests arrive and the event they began planning in mid-February finally comes to fruition. “It’s a nervous happy,” says Gash. “When this event comes together each year, it reinforces the support from the community and the dedication of our members to further KAMA’s mission.”
The mission is to promote health education programs that impact the welfare of the community and to encourage friendship among its membership. The inaugural event was called “Fashionata” in 1954, and served as KAMA’s primary fundraiser to support nursing scholarships. In 1961, the event adopted its present-day name, “Fashiondrama.” Proceeds are distributed each spring in the form of medical and nursing scholarships and grants for local health-related nonprofit organizations. KAMA Philanthropic reports, “In the past 5 years, KAMA’s Philanthropic fund has distributed more than $400,000 in medical and nursing scholarships and grants to local health-related nonprofits and initiatives.”
“The event is so much fun!” says Hutchins. “The support we get from the community through our corporate and event sponsors, our fashion sponsors, and those who attend our event ultimately allows the mission of KAMA to succeed.”
Over the years, I’ve attended several events and KAMA comes up with something different to keep the event fresh. This year’s theme, Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful, reflects a belief that “each person is a precious creation, uniquely beautiful, ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ Each person inherently embodies and expresses Your Own Kind of Beautiful in her spirit, style, traits, talents, and efforts.”
In their welcoming remarks for the event, Gash & Hutchins said, “We are inspired and motivated by strong women everywhere who strive in their own beautiful ways to make the world a better place. Our message is one of acknowledgement and affirmation: there are many kinds of beautiful—embrace your own and seek to recognize it in others.”
On the surface it’s a fashion show—beautiful clothes, beautiful people, and high energy music— which create the perfect environment to showcase external beauty. But below the surface, you see truth. The local runway models are volunteers of all shapes and sizes who understand and believe in the mission of KAMA. Gash reflects,, “The longevity of this event and its success [are] remarkable. For 65 years, the community has truly shown up to support us as we seek to improve health care in the area by providing scholarships to future doctors and nurses and by granting much needed funds to important health initiatives. We believe that members of our community see value in the mission of KAMA.”
From my table in the center of a square runway—preventing a bad seat in the house—I recognize the models who expertly dressed in clothing from Janice Ann’s Fashions, Virginia Jane Clothing and Gifts, and M.S. McClellan & Co. I know many of them and am excited to watch them proudly display what I’m told are some of the top trending styles this fall. Pearl embellishments are everywhere. Flared pants and jeans give a friendly nod to that 70’s throwback we can’t help but love. Chunky accessories brighten with pops of color and animal prints are present. The most incredible pair of leather and knit skinny pants made my toes literally tingle!
I sit impressed at the conclusion of the show as the ladies of KAMA take down the model blocks and roll up the runway. I asked Gash how an event like Fashiondrama continues to work so well and appeal to so many different types of women. She said, “I love this group of ladies. There is so much talent. We just work together well.”
There are currently 120 members of the Knoxville Academy of Medicine Alliance and many of them helped plan, volunteer or attend the event. They sold over 100 tickets, outfitted 40 models, arranged for 3 runway fashion vendors and 2 live mannequin fashion vendors, and accepted donations of 21 silent auction items with a retail value of approximately $8,000. Numbers will be finalized in late November, but KAMA has no doubt that Fashiondrama 2018 was a success. Which leaves us with two questions: how will KAMA reinvent this event for 2019 and will you be there?