Skip to main content

Costume Secrets From the Fall Premieres of 'Empire,' 'How to Get Away With Murder' and More of Your Favorite TV Shows

Plus, all the high-fashion in 'Gotham' and how Miley Cyrus will pass her signature style onto her team on 'The Voice.'
L-R: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers, Bryshere Gray and Jussie Smollett pose for 'Empire' season three. Photo: Michael Lavine/FOX

L-R: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers, Bryshere Gray and Jussie Smollett pose for 'Empire' season three. Photo: Michael Lavine/FOX

It's the start of the new TV season, (yay!) which means your favorite shows like "Empire," "Transparent," and "How to Get Away With Murder" are back, along with new ones. That also means fresh new costumes to help bring your beloved characters into their next chapters. To really tell the stories, we enlisted the costume designers from seven returning shows and one brand new one — oh hi, Luke Cage — for teasers on what to expect from the sure-to-be-discussed stories and outfits this season. 

The shows are listed by premiere date below and definitely click into the galleries for extra behind-the-scenes fun facts.


On top of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and a busload of monsters on the loose, "Gotham" faces a new villain, the hypnotist Mad Hatter/Jarvis Tetch (Benedict Samuel). But forget all the modern iterations of the Lewis Carroll baddie (sorry, Johnny Depp). "We actually just went right to the [original] Alice and Wonderland book," says costume designer John Glaser, alongside his assistants Josh Quinn and Danielle Burakovsky. So this Hatter wears natty houndstooth three-piece suiting by Paul Stuart's luxury brand, Phineas Cole, and a brushed beaver fur top hat by Christys' Hats. 

Thanks to Dr. Strange's experiments, Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy (now played by an adult Maggie Geha) literally grows out of her striped sweater. The aging process includes an upgrade to verdant dresses, including a body-con Hervé Leger and a Charles James-inspired custom gown with rosette detail, which, like most pieces on the show, receive a comic-inspired hand-painted ombré effect, courtesy of ager/dyer Ashley Singer.

Former detective, now bounty hunter Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) trades in his skinny suiting for a dark custom leather jacket. "We lightened [the villains] and switched the good people to black," Glaser says. "Just to flip it because it's Gotham." 

"Gotham" season 3 premieres at 8 p.m. on Monday, September 19 on FOX. 


Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams are out, while Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus are in as coaches — also the first time that two women are twirling about in the red chairs. (Finally!) Along with bringing the possibility of foam finger cameos and candid feedback, the "Wrecking Ball" singer will also inject her personal style into the new season.

"Miley is extremely hands-on," says Erin Hirsh, who dresses the contestants, the dancers and the bands. "We've never had someone who really wanted to get in there. She wants to lend her personal clothing to her contestants and she's very specific about the hair and makeup. It's a completely different experience than what we've had so far." Another bombshell: "festival bohemian" style is on the way out for contestants. Instead, Hirsh is stocking up on sporty matching sets and color-blocking, largely from Topshop, while also enjoying an assist from Cyrus's closet. "We're going to push the envelope a little more this season," she says.

"The Voice" season 11 premieres at 8 p.m. on Monday, September 19 on NBC. Follow Erin Hirsh on Twitter @erinhirsh and Instagram @erinhirsh.


Last we left the Lyon family, Lucious (Terence Howard) was forced to marry Anika (Grace Gealy) — who may or may not have tumbled off a balcony — leaving Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) devastated. So we'll be seeing a different side to the Lyon family matriarch.

"I've stripped her down a little bit. Just a little bit, in her Cookie way," says Paolo Nieddu. "We're getting to see her at home and in ways that we've never seen her before, like waking up and before she goes to work." While the Emmy-nominated costume designer declined to name Cookie's preferred type of PJs (silk sets, we presume), he did emphasize that her wardrobe, while less "outfit-y" than last season, will still be on-point and full of Fendi fur and Kimberly McDonald jewelry. He also experimented with new designers, like Elie Top for luxe jewels and Marco DiVincenzo.

"Lucious is having a little bit of a style evolution," says Nieddu, who would love to design his own line of "Empire"-inspired clothing one day. "We're still keeping him tailored obviously, but we've been [doing] a 1920s to 1940s vibe on him: suspenders, peak lapels, art deco flourishes on his pocket squares and oxford-y brogue style shoes that have a vintage feel." Gatsby-themed night at Leviticus, perhaps?

"Empire" season 3 premieres at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20 on FOX. Follow Paolo Nieddu on Twitter @pmnieddu and Instagram @pniddy.


A "darker tone" rolls into town, along with Robbie Reyes a.k.a. Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) in his literally on-fire vintage Dodge Charger. Costume designer Ann Foley looked to the circa 2014 "All New Ghost Rider" comics, written and illustrated by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore, for inspiration to create the vigilante's look.

"We've kept it simple and used brands that really seemed to suit his character," Foley explains via email. He wears faded black Levi's jeans, knuckle-bearing driving gloves from Dorothy Gaspar and authentic leather Vans SK8-HIs "that tied the whole look together." She worked with L.A.-based Logan Riese to custom-make the black, gray and white leather motocross jacket, of which there are three versions. "Then they went to my ager Claudia Hardy to break it down because we wanted the jacket to look like it's been around for a few years," Foley says. The motos were designed with extra flexibility and space to hide padding for stunt work and fight scenes.

While Daisy (Chloe Bennet) wears civilian clothes as she's on the run, don't discount her Quake supersuit just yet. "That's not gone away," Foley hints. "That's definitely going to play a big part and it's got a little bit of an upgrade, too."

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" season 4 premieres at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21 on FOX. Follow Ann Foley  on Twitter @afoley24 and Instagram @ann.foley.


Another season, another murder (or murders) to solve, cover up, commit or all of the above — meaning, it's the same same for Annalise (Viola Davis) and her Keating Five. Not the same? Costume designer Lyn Paolo adds outfitting the Middleton University crew to her ever-growing portfolio, which includes "Scandal," "Shameless" and "Animal Kingdom."

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"We are seeing a transition to a more serious look, elevated slightly, with an edge, a feeling of maturity," Paolo tells us via email about the accomplices', er, law students' evolved aesthetic. "They are growing into themselves and finding their way." 

Davis as Annalise was snapped on-set by Entertainment Weekly in a super chic Escada courtroom-ready suit with a distinct Paolo touch. "The two tone texture of the fabric is stunning and I loved the idea of having Viola in a very structured jacket for the beginning of the new season," She explains. "Her armor is on; she is bracing herself for whatever comes her way." But don't expect to see Annalise exuding a D.C.-power player type of sartorial vibe all of a sudden, if you know what we mean. (Although, all that scheming really is deserving of a plush Prada bag.)

"The show is set in Philadelphia, so there will always be that nuance to the costumes," Paolo says.

"How to Get Away With Murder" season 3 premieres at 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 22 on ABC. Follow Lyn Paolo on Twitter @LynPaolo and Instagram @LynPaolo.


Happy birthday, Maura (Jeffrey Tambor). Photo: Amazon Studios

Happy birthday, Maura (Jeffrey Tambor). Photo: Amazon Studios

"Season three of 'Transparent' is a more spiritual season," Marie Schley tells us via email. (In some cases, literally, considering that Sarah, played by Amy Landecker, starts her own religious movement.) "Instead of looking out at the world around, the characters are going on a more internal investigation of themselves." 

The Emmy-nominated costume designer will definitely explore these themes via wardrobe, especially for Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), who, in the trailer, visits a plastic surgeon as part of her gender reassignment journey.  "Maura will be pushing farther ahead in her exploration of femininity and that will definitely be seen in her personal style," explains Schley. "She is getting a new look."

And "there is more to be discovered in the Pfefferman family’s past and more secrets will be revealed," she adds. The new season will flash back to a not-out-yet 12-year-old Maura in 1958, bringing more vintage costume opportunities. "Young Maura knows from early on that she is transgender and we go back into her past and see her experimentation with her gender identity," explains Schley. "We explore a little girl's fantasy of what it means to be beautiful."

"Transparent" season 3 premieres on Friday, September 23 on Amazon. Follow Marie Schley on Twitter @schleystyle and Instagram @shleystyle.


Forty-year-old publishing assistant Liza (Sutton Foster) is still masquerading as a 26-year-old at work. Now she's caught in a love triangle with her 20-something dreamboat boyfriend Josh (Nico Tortorella) and her also-dreamboat 40-something boss Charles (Peter Hermann), who kissed her in the season two finale. And the latter will affect her office attire.

"[There is] a flirtation going on with the way she dresses," says costume designer Jacqueline Demeterio. "Not in your face sexy or anything, but with floral dresses and movement of the silhouettes." Despite her low-level salary, Liza's labels are high-end, including a Saint Laurent palm tree bomber and "a couple really good Gucci pieces."

"It's a brand new season for her," says costume consultant Patricia Field about newly single Kelsey (Hilary Duff). "Now she's much more playful, adventurous and trying new things," adds Demeterio, while Field chimes in: "but sexy." The head of Millennial Press will experiment with a range of designers, from sassy Self Portrait dresses to sophisticated Valentino.

Ironically, Liza tells her boss Diana (Miriam Shor) to dress "younger" to relate to the youths. "Diana wears a pair of ripped boyfriend jeans," laughs Demeterio, but with heels and a Victoria Beckham cream jacket, obvs. Even more fun, the first episode opens on a casual Friday, so here's to seeing Charles in a pair of cargo shorts.

"Younger" season 3 premieres at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28 on TV Land. Follow Jacqueline Demeterio on Twitter @JoDemeterio and Instagram @JacquelineDemeterio. Follow Patricia Field on Twitter @pat_field and Instagram @patricia_field.


Despite not wearing a supersuit, Netflix's latest superhero, Luke Cage (Mike Colter), is, however, "sick of having to buy new clothes" all the time; the hunky hero may be impervious to bullets, but his attire is not. So thankfully, his style is pretty straightforward. "He doesn't wear fancy clothes," says Stephanie Maslansky, who also costume designed "Daredevil" and the other non-supersuit wearing superhero, "Jessica Jones." He doesn’t even wear a suit unless he has to." Making it easier, his workwear-inspired, thrift-store-looking wardrobe is mostly from one label: Carhartt, which "always represented the working man, the common man, the everyday man."

But Luke Cage's pec and bicep-enhancing, three-button Henley shirts are on a more contemporary fashion level. "The thermals we liked the best happened to be made by Rag & Bone and Ralph Lauren," the costume designer admits. Although, fans might prefer Cage in arguably his best look: shirtless, as seen in the trailers (the :21 mark, you're welcome). More please. "Don't worry, you'll get your opportunity," laughs Maslansky.

"Luke Cage" premieres on Friday, September 30 on Netflix. Follow Stephanie Maslansky  on Twitter @spmaslansky and Instagram @stephaniemaslansky.

Never miss the latest fashion industry news. Sign up for the Fashionista daily newsletter.