Trisha West Announces First T. Cole Fashion Show on Oct. 11

The lights of a fashion runway will spotlight Tennessee Tech University engineering student Trish West’s original T. Cole line at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, in TTU’s Roaden University Center Multipurpose Room.

West — a Tennessee Tech University senior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in electrical engineering, mathematics, English and professional communications — decided this summer that her talent with circuits and switches also carries over to threads and swatches. Her showcase, featuring about 45 original pieces, will be her first step into a world where her love of design ventures outside of robotics and mechanics and into the world of high fashion.

“I met a very special person this summer who planted the seed that I should pursue what I really loved in life,” said West. “I enjoy the hands-on projects in engineering, the ones that involve imagination and construction. With fashion design, I use those same skills.”

West met the person who encouraged her to pursue fashion design, Susan Weidman, at the Atlantis Music Festival in Atlanta last July. West says Weidman, who holds a doctorate in physics from MIT but now makes a living as a songwriter, told her that her options were not limited by her education or others’ expectations.

“The Lord used her,” said West. “I just started crying when I realized I could choose to finish my degree and put together this show.”

An only child, West, whose mother worked for the federal government, has lived in many European countries, Central America, and Washington, D.C. She says her mother was surprised that her daughter, who used to dismantle the vacuum cleaner and fix her own car, had decided to become a fashion designer too.

“Her first words were ‘Uh-uh,’” laughed West. “But she supports me now and knows I’ll follow through on what I start.”

A self-described tomboy who wore baggy clothes until her junior year in high school, West says she realizes now she began laying the foundation for a career in fashion by making contacts the last several years through a variety of networking opportunities. Some of her Nashville contacts were made when she worked as a talent escort at the gospel music Stellar Awards the last two years.

West says she has invited more than 400 people to the event, including acquaintances of high profile stars such as Lil’ Kim and Eve. She has choreographed the entire show, which includes a dance number, and is prepared for success by having a seamstress and tailor standing by to fill any orders generated by the show.

“I already have plans to travel after I graduate, then start working on my master’s degree in international business administration next year,” she said. “I look forward to being a designer and a mechanical engineer who can fix her own car.”

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