Cookie is back for another season on Empire of diva-ing her way to the top, and this time she's got one more secret weapon: a new look. Empire has recruited costume designer Paolo Nieddu, who replaces the first season's Rita McGhee in shaping the wardrobes of these memorable characters. Nieddu is used to the high-pressure a fashionable show can put on a costume designer, as he's worked on previously style-beloved programs as Ugly Betty, Smash, and Sex and the City, as well as the Cameron Diaz-helmed fashionable flick The Other Woman. Now, he takes on Cookie, Becky, Anika, and the bad boys of Empire in shaping their images on-screen. What can you expect? Less animal print, more high-fashion. We'll let him explain.
How are you changing Cookie's look, if at all?
"Cookie is a creative force as well as a business force, and this season we will see her experiment with different looks in a very 'Cookie' way. She has now evolved and is reacquainted herself back into today's world—she is on social media, she is surrounded by artists and entertainers. The animal print will be toned down somewhat, although it will still be part of her signature look. Expect to see a more variation with Cookie, like wearing separates, more tailored pieces, and denim."
Where do you shop for Cookie?
"Everywhere! Having worked so much in New York, I have great relationships with stores there like Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and Jeffrey. I always need something from Albright Fashion Library, which has new and past collections of top designers. I also love searching for vintage designer pieces and reworking them. For that, I go to New York Vintage and Luxury Garage Sale in Chicago, where we shoot."
Will we see her in any current designs?
"Yes. Kimberly McDonald, Kenneth Jay Lane, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Helen Yarmak, Moschino, and Fendi have all been helpful in letting us use some amazing pieces as well."
Who or what is on your inspiration board for Cookie?
"Vintage Blackglama ads, Kenneth Jay Lane jewels, Dynasty screenshots, vintage Versace looks, and a head-to-toe printed look from MaxMara's fall 2015 collection."
Other than Cookie, who is your favorite character to dress?
"Like a good parent, I can't pick a favorite! But, for my ladies, I would have to say Gabourey Sidibe as Becky is really exciting to dress. There are no rules when it comes to dressing her. We can have fun and play dress up. For the men, I would say Hakeem. He's definitely Cookie's son. His character allows me to go for pieces that are shiny and over the top, which I love."
How will season 2 costumes top season 1?
"I will be serving looks on everyone all the time! More furs, more jewels, more shoes. I love pushing the lines of reality and fiction, and will be adding even more glamour to the world of Empire. The characters are going through new chapters in their lives and have all the past experiences from season one behind them, which will allow them and their styles to grow."
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