Eight floors above a series of freshly minted window displays containing fur-covered mannequins and some of the greatest Cookie Lyon quotes ever, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels welcomed guests into the Saks Fifth Avenue shoe salon in a way only the brain behind Fox’s megawatt show could. “People that are impoverished, ghetto fabulous, come from a place of an intrinsic sense of style and you don’t have to have money to be born with it,” he quipped. “I think Saks Fifth Ave is indicative of that and I am so honored, so, so honored that we are having this event at a place that I used to boost from, y’all! This is real. And it’s real talk and it’s beautiful.”
Yes, Daniels hilariously admitted that he once used to shoplift from the luxury department store, but VIPs in the room, which included Saks executives, fashion editors, designers, cast members like Terrence Howard (above, center), and, of course, New York Fashion Week revelers, couldn't help but cackle at the tale. Besides Daniels and the Empire cast certainly know how to make an entrance. They rolled to the store in a massive prom-like bus.
Grand entrances aside, there was, of course, the fashion. The smartly curated selection featured MCM, Alexis Bittar, Cushnie et Ochs, and Jimmy Choo pieces that could have been straight from a rack off the Empire set. And naturally, the show was all anybody could talk about.
Dressed in a red Isabel Toledo piece and custom made Shoes of Prey heels (which, naturally she took off to show InStyle) Gabourey Sidibe (above, right) was elated to be with her cast and hinted at her character Becky’s steamy Season 2 plans. “She gets a love interest this year. He’s played by Mo McRae, who’s this amazing actor. And he’s very handsome and Becky gets herself a sexy boyfriend. And you get to see what she does with her boyfriend,” she said. Is there a sexy scene down the pipeline? “Maybe,” she said coyly.
In a dapper Saks-designed suit, Trai Byers (above, right) expressed his newfound appreciation of fashion. “I’ve been a T-shirt and jeans guy for a long time. I’m changing man. It's so beautiful being introduced to fashion in the show,” he said. And as for what to expect for Season 2, he added: “We want to push the story forward as best as we can with the same energy, but we’re dealing with a different subject matter now. It’s going to challenge some of the viewers.”
Get ready for "fiercer" and more "cut-throat" fashion this coming season as well, says the shows executive producers. For label hounds, be on the lookout for Moschino, Fendi, MCM, Givenchy, and Versace. “I’m wearing lots of chunky prints, bell bottoms, high-waisted jeans with like a Saint Laurent top with a tie,” Kaitlin Doubleday (above, left) said of her character’s style.
Season 2 of Empire premieres Wed., Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
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