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Taraji P. Henson's high-style Empire world

Published 02/11/2015

Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson

Empire's Taraji P. Henson and costume designer Paolo Nieddu are gearing up to collect the Influencer Award at the ACE Awards tonight (02Nov15).

Empire's costume designer Paolo Nieddu aimed to create a "high-style world" for Taraji P. Henson's character Cookie Lyon.

Paolo will be presented with the Influencer Award at the ACE Awards, hosted by the Accessories Council, on Monday evening (02Nov15). He's received plenty of recognition for his work on the show, which sees him dress Taraji and her co-stars in glitzy costumes.

“The world of Empire is a high-style world,” he explained to WWD. “Things like bags and jewellery and scarves and lapel pins and pocket squares — those are all important details that help build a character, especially on this show.”

The key to success is the attention to detail. That means drawing on things like Cookie's name to come up with unusual designs that will stick in viewers' memories.

“I went to Judith Leiber (handbag designer) before we started and made an actual Cookie purse,” he smiled. “They made a mirrored compact that looks like a chocolate chip cookie.”

The Judith Leiber label has played a big part on the show and Taraji also recalled one of her favourite accessory-related memories. It involved a dramatic scene, in which her character made sure her bag was safe above all else.

“When Cookie pulled the tablecloth and dragged the food from family dinner, she made sure not to let her red rose Leiber bag fall — she grabbed it right before she pulled,” she shared.

Paolo and Taraji will both attend the ceremony at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York to accept the award. It will be presented by designer Alexander Wang

It's not just the fashion that's taken seriously on Empire. Even the make-up is made to measure.

“When Cookie is falling in love, her make-up is soft and glowy,” make-up artist Ashunta Sheriff told Refinery29.

“When Cookie is handling serious business, her look is more edgy and strong. Her fashion and her beauty coincide with what is happening in her life. Cookie was behind the trends for 17 years because of her incarceration, so she's trying every lipstick, every pump, bag and lash."

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