Taraji P. Henson’s character—Cookie Lyon—on the new Fox hip-hop drama Empire is my new style crush. Cookie is bold, fierce, sassy and loud—just like her style. She enjoys wearing all the animal prints—tigers, zebras, and leopards. Oh my! She covets sumptuous leathers and luxurious furs in bold, loud colors. Cookie loves to flaunt her wealth and knows how to make an entrance.
Costume designer Rita McGhee—with the help of her sister Alita Bailey and Monique Mosely (rapper/producer Timberland’s wife)—is behind Cookie’s glamorous wardrobe. McGhee and her team drape Cookie in colorful furs, blingy jewelry and designer duds from Prada, Gucci, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Balmain. Speaking of Balmain, did you like that slinky, sequined zebra print gown that Cookie wore in the latest episode? It was to die for!
In an interview on Essence.com, McGhee said that the inspiration for Cookie’s style comes from music and fashion icons such as Diana Ross, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige and Rita Ora. McGhee also referenced Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface and researched the style of women married to mob bosses.
Cookie is a boss in her own right. Her style is professional and sophisticated—but on her own terms. If Cookie wears a suit in the boardroom, it’s going to be a leopard suit, McGhee says.
Taraji P. Henson is very involved in the costuming process. McGhee said that Henson makes the clothes and colors come alive and she knows what works and what doesn’t work for her. Henson has the curves and confidence to pull off Cookie’s bold patterns, tight tailoring and sky-high Louboutin heels. Cookie Lyon is giving Olivia Pope a run for her money when it comes to her fashion choices.
Tune into Empire Wednesdays on FOX at 8 p.m. to catch Cookie’s fabulous fashion ensembles!