Empire's Cookie Has a Style All Her Own

Ingela Ratledge
Chuck Hodes/Fox

Empire

On Empire, Fox's hit drama about a family at war over control of its music company, matriarch Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) is out to conquer the world of hip-hop–and she's doing it one outfit at a time. "Her wardrobe is her armor," the show's costume designer, Rita McGhee, says. "The way she dresses is an extension of how she feels–fierce, fabulous, powerful, strong, and sensual." To achieve Cookie's style, McGhee draws inspiration from such formidable fashion icons as Diana Ross, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama and favors bold colors and patterns, ultrafeminine silhouettes, and don't-mess-with-me materials like fur and leather. "I know instantly if something is 'Cookie-fied,'" McGhee says. "When it's firing on all cylinders, I get this feeling like, 'Oh, my God, let me calm myself down!'"

Empire
Chuck Hodes/Fox

Little black dress? As if! "Fun prints speak to who Cookie is," McGhee says. This graphic two-piece, designed by Bardot, is "regal, luxurious, and appropriate for a boss lady in the music industry."

Empire
Bek Andersen/Fox

Cookie's Closet–the biggest one on set, naturally–is filled with a mix of labels high and low. "We have everything from Prada to Target," says McGhee (pictured above). "She's the kind of character who likes what she likes!"

Empire
Chuck Hodes/Fox

Fur real! "Being PC does not cross Cookie's mind," McGhee says of the character's frequent furs. Bonus: The pelts help keep Henson toasty while shooting in Chicago (the Windy City subs for NYC, where the series is set). "Taraji is game for anything," McGhee says, "but she definitely likes to be warm!"

Empire
Bek Andersen/Fox

Hear her roar! These leopard-print, sky-high Christian Louboutin stilettos (price: more than $800) are quintessential Cookie. "She could even use them as a weapon!" says McGhee.

AlertMe