Fox's breakout series "Empire" portrays the gilded trials and tribulations (and cat fights) of the Lyon family. If the characters existed in real life, they'd probably spend a fair amount of time and money at Saks Fifth Avenue — which is why it was only natural that the two partnered on a collection of "Empire"-esque designer goods and bold window displays just in time for the show's season two premiere next week. Who needs holiday windows when passersby can take in classic bon mots like Cookie's "Streets ain't made for everybody, that's why they made sidewalks" — in all caps — accompanying a Red Valentino dress, Jimmy Choo heels and MCM bag ensemble?
Real life mirrored the show as an increasingly frantic crowd of fans gathered outside the storied flagship awaiting members of the "Empire" cast, who came to celebrate the collaboration on Saturday afternoon. Sadly, September issue model and Emmy-nominated star Taraji P. Henson didn't make it due to a delayed flight; but Terrence Howard, who plays her TV husband Lucious Lyon, graced the crowd and pulled a very Lucious-like move by running across the street to take a group selfie with ecstatic fans. Howard channeled his on-screen alter ego in a tailored gray check suit and the sort of emerald green statement neckwear often worn by the Empire Entertainment CEO.
Howard isn't the only cast member whose personal style seems to be affected by his Lyon persona. Trai Byers, who plays his buttoned-up oldest son Andre, looked extremely dapper in a natty three-piece custom Saks Fifth Avenue label suit that he also wears on the cover of the fall Saks magalog. "I'm getting a little fancy. I'm loving this stuff. Look at this detail, you see that?" he said, pointing to the purple silk lining of his jacket. "It's beautiful. I'm changing. I'm evolving."
The "Empire" and Saks partnership offers a selection of luxe pieces that are in line with the aesthetic of the ultra-glam, high fashion Lyon family and friends on the show — think Hakeem-esque leather sneakers by Jimmy Choo, a Vince leather hoodie for Jamal, a white Cushnie et Ochs halter top-and-pant set that Cookie would totally wear and an Alexis Bittar chunky pavé collar and earring combo that Naomi Campbell could wear as Camilla — if she's allowed to come back.
Inside the party, the rest of the cast, including Gabourey Sidibe (Becky), Ta'Rhonda Jones (the long suffering Porsha) and Grace Gealey (Anika "Boo Boo Kitty" Calhoun) mingled with Saks guests, designers and a smattering of Hollywood power players, including executive producers Brian Grazer, Danny Strong (aka Doyle from "Gilmore Girls") and the Oscar-nominated Lee Daniels. Addressing the crowd, Daniels admitted that as a teen he used to "boost" (i.e. steal) items from Saks with his sister, whom Cookie is based on. "Ghetto fabulous comes from an instinct sense of style," he said. "And you don't have to have money to be born with that and I think Saks Fifth Avenue is indicative of it and I am so so honored that we are having this event at a place that I used to boost from." Cookie would be so proud.
The "Empire"-themed windows will be on display at the New York and Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue flagships from Sept. 10 through Oct. 7. Shop the "Empire" State of Mind collection here.