The 7 craziest moments from the ‘Empire’ season premiere

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Empire’s Cookie to Phase Out Animal Prints for High Fashion in Season 2, Says Costume Designer.

Henson’s nomination because — hello — she’s amazing.) The increasing ratings over the first five episodes of season one last year broke a record that’s at least 23 years old. It’s a testament to a series this brazen and this confident in barreling its plot forward at gunshot speed that, by the end of Wednesday’s Season 2 premiere, Terrence Howard’s Lucious Lyon makes the opposite pronouncement: “Game over, bitches.” How does the most successful TV series in over a decade, a wildly popular hip-hop soap opera with Shakespearean ambitions, possibly live up to the precedent it set: combating homophobia, damning the idea that “black TV” can’t be mainstream TV, and creating a nation of Cookie addicts? “Everyone was always asking about the pressure and I was really trying not to get caught up in it and keep the process the same as it was last year,” says Empire co-creator Danny Strong, who also co-wrote Wednesday’s Season 2 premiere, deliciously titled “The Devils Are Here.” The bombast, the endlessly quotable dialogue, the ferocious performances, the resonant themes, and the simmering epic-ness that came to define the first season of Empire and spark its unprecedented week-by-week build in popularity all somehow shine together again, like blinding pieces of bling clashing beautifully on one of the Lyons’ ostentatious outfits. The last time we saw that type of steady increase was in 1992. (Video via Fox / “Empire”) A lot of that has to do with the way co-creator Lee Daniels designed the show.

The sartorial association is for good reason: when costume designer Paolo Nieddu outfitted Cookie for the Fox show’s first episode, he says, “I literally put her in animal print almost every single scene. . . . She wastes not a moment peeling it off, stripping down to a feathered and crystal-encrusted Gucci dress that says more about her, and the luster-starved state of fashion itself, than words ever could. For the bird of paradise that is Cookie Lyon on Fox network’s drama about a hip-hop/R & B record ruling family, that gown was the only clear choice. She wore leopard three times.” When the second season of the addictive musical drama premieres tonight, though, viewers will likely notice that Empire’s flashy character has finessed her style. “We’re going to see her have a little bit more of a range,” Nieddu explains during a recent phone call. “I took into consideration the amount of money she has, how long she’s been out of jail, and the fact that she’s working so hard and is back in the business. [Animal prints and furs] were her strong suit before she went to jail. She is, it develops, about to embark on a journey of unfettered opulence rarely seen since the no-holds-barred television era of “Dynasty” in the 1980s. “You’re looking at a woman who was living for 17 years in an orange prison suit,” Ms.

Now, though, she’s honing her [fashion] skills.” Cookie won’t ditch her sartorial signature entirely, though. “I’m kind of trickling it in,” Nieddu says of the animal print. “It’s in a handbag here, or a leopard shoe there. . . . Lucious is still in jail, but pulling the puppet strings at his record label, where he made Jamal (Jussie Smollett) his successor after making peace with his homosexuality.

It’s going to come in little waves, like a Where’s Waldo for me.” Unlike costume designers on other series, Nieddu doesn’t restrict each character to certain clothing colors with a wardrobe palette. She had all that time on her hands to think every day of her life, ‘When I get out, what am I going to wear?’ ” Paolo Nieddu, a costume designer for the show, described Cookie’s gown as “vulgar in the best sense of the word.” Vulgar, that is, by design. “I don’t need to see another leading lady in a Roland Mouret dress.” Mr.

Cookie basically took the crowd to church, delivering an impassioned sermon-like speech about the topic: “The American correctional system is built on the backs of our brothers, our fathers and our sons. Instead, he approaches the entertainment industry-set series like a stylist might—dressing his “clients” to face off on the red carpet with other superstars. “In my head, Cookie Lyon and Kim Kardashian both go the Grammys. Nieddu, whose previous costume credits include “Ugly Betty” and the movie version of “Sex and the City,” is operating from a sense of mission, he said.

So I’m not inspired by anyone’s fashion—although I did buy Cookie a pair of Pierre Hardy shoes that I saw Rihanna wearing—as much as I act as though I’m competing with Kim or Rihanna’s stylist. It’s the most he’s seen of the majority of them — Cookie hasn’t yet visited him, but that pales in comparison to the years he refused to visit her during her prison bid. But to keep up appearances—and to keep positive attention on Empire Records while Lucious is in jail—Cookie stages a massive #FreeLucious concert in a park, which, aside from serving as a venue for some great musical performances is the stage for Cookie to deliver a rousing monologue about police corruption, black male incarceration, and issues that have become tentpoles of the Black Lives Matter movement that has raged over the past year. “How much longer are they going to treat us like animals? Backstage, when Hakeem reminded his mother that Lucious was in prison for a murder he actually committed (of their cousin, no less), Cookie revealed her master plan: “This is about us taking the empire.

It is a maroon-and-salmon houndstooth-y plaid sleeveless vest top with an over-size white collar and matching flared pants.” Like Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw before her, Cookie dresses distinctly for every possible occasion. We’d like to imagine that they have a shared Google Doc titled “Hostile Takeover!!!” that is open to anyone who has the link.) With Jamal at the helm of Empire at Lucious’s behest, Dre, Hakeem and Cookie have been working to obtain a controlling interest in the company. The character’s liberal attitude toward fashion allows for a particularly whimsical costume design process for both Nieddu and Henson. “Taraji and I talked about it and she said, ‘I’m like your Barbie!’ She is my real-life doll—the Barbie I never had and secretly wanted,” he says, laughing. “And it is—like, here’s Barbie as an actor, and Barbie as an executive.

She comes into the fitting and will say, ‘What do you want to put on me today?’” Cookie is not the only Empire character to undergo a style evolution in the show’s second season. Nieddu says that Hakeem, Cookie and Lucious’s reckless, youngest son, also switches up his look. “I feel like there’s always that little bratty side of him. . . . Henson and the production team was working from a template laid out by the show’s director, Lee Daniels. “The fashion on ‘Empire’ is bombastic,” Mr.

From Jimmy Fallon skits and “Saturday Night Live” appearances to Jussie Smollett performing “Empire” hit songs at award shows, it’s easy to see that the show is here to stay. When Jamal takes issue with the proposed artwork for Hakeem’s still-not-released album, Hakeem says he’s “going to tell mom!” Becky, upgraded to A&R from her role as Lucious’s assistant, has the best response to the animosity, telling Jamal: “You’re rude, he’s crude and the both of y’all are socially unacceptable. It’s not all victory for Lucious, though, whose rule as prison royalty is threatened by the arrival of Frank Gathers, a juicy performance by guest star Chris Rock. The eldest Lyon brother is paranoid about his role in covering up Vernon’s murder and holds particular contempt for Jamal being the chosen heir to their father’s legacy. Among her more eye-catching numbers are the gilt-edged blue patchwork and leather Moschino suit she wears in Episode 1, and, as the season advances, a red leather biker jacket and trousers slung with gold chains.

Gathers has a vendetta against Lucious—Cookie is the one who sold him out—and orders his goons to kill him: “Make it fast and make it quiet.” But Lucious is always a step ahead and turns the tables on Gathers. Now that Season 2 is finally here, we got on the phone with Strong to talk through the episode’s big twists, the big themes of the new season, the fallout of the hostile takeover, and so much more. Enter Marisa Tomei as Mimi Whiteman, a wealthy potential investor who isn’t shy about what she likes (Anika) and what she doesn’t (people trying too hard).

One day they were doing a scene where he was playing basketball and he took an extra tank top, like a Hanes tank, and wrapped it over his head like a turban.” The task of dressing Empire’s characters is so all-consuming that Nieddu says he can never really turn the job off. “I’ll come home and be trying to decompress and I’m like, ‘Oh, this is a good uninterrupted moment for me to go on Style.com or eBay.’ I have to stop myself on the weekends and tell myself, ‘O.K., let’s not do the show today. Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, implied as much in “Women’s Wear Daily” last week. You did it all week.’” And although Cookie is trying her manicured hand at new styles this season, Nieddu is clear that the burgeoning fashionista draws a hard line at certain aesthetics. Among the most avidly anticipated spring runway collections being shown in Europe this week are standard bearers of over-the topness like Fausto Puglisi, with his violently colorful graphics and hardware-studded biker coats; and Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s designer, an even more exuberant champion of curve-clutching, gilt-embellished rocker chic. Mimi buys into Empire, but opts to partner with Lucious instead, adding insult to injury when the takeover team arrives to a board meeting in formation (with Hakeem on a hovercraft because of course). “I thought I told you to sleep with her,” Cookie snaps at Anika. “I did,” Anika says, looking pained.

The rules seem pretty lax there: In addition to watching television and joining video conferences, the inmates appear to be free to move about the facility with little oversight. It’s nice to see “Empire’s” writers revisiting this particular storyline, which seemed to vanish amid all of the late-season melodrama earlier this year. But Viola Davis gave that amazing speech about how opportunity is needed for equality to happen, and you must feel proud to be part of a show that’s giving those opportunities.

Taraji said this on Ellen yesterday morning, when she talked about how, in 2015, it’s time that we are done with the phrase “the first African-American to do…” I think she’s absolutely right. And then when all of a sudden we started getting nominated for various critics’ awards I thought, “Oh I guess we are an awards season contender.” So I’m bummed to say that I got suckered into thinking we were. The other line that I responded to a lot in the premiere is when Jamal is kicking Cookie out of the office and tells her, “You done now, lady.” It signals this upsetting transformation of Jamal, where he’s becoming Lucious.

There is a fun laugh line at the #FreeLucious concert where Cookie is asked if Bill Clinton is there and she responds, “He needs to be if he wants his wife to get elected.” I love it when real-world politics are introduced the Empire world.

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