With more than 20 years in the entertainment industry, actress Taraji P. Henson busted through our TV screens as the fiery first lady of Fox’s breakout show Empire in 2014.
You’ve been styling Taraji for the past four years. Why do you think you two work so well together?
The powerful thing about Taraji is that she wants everyone to be himself or herself and be the best at what they do. With the creative aspect of it, she is always interested in what your point of view is because that’s your gift, that’s your magic. I feel we work well together because she allows me to do my things.
How would you describe Taraji’s red carpet style?
We always want to go for this quintessential, smart, chic actress. We always add an ounce or that touch of classic edge and rock, who she is to her core and funk if you will. She is one of those girls who loves house music, and that’s a piece of what we try to drop in. So no matter what you will always see a piece of that happen, from the fabric we use, to the length of that dress, to the silhouette — it all plays a lot into it.
What else does she listen to when getting ready?
If she hears house music she’ll bust a move. She’s like a nice little encyclopedia of music. If you go to her house you never know what you’re going to hear because it’s always different. From fittings to dinners at her house it will be from Bob Marley to Afrika Bambaataa to Drake to Rihanna, you just never know what you’re going to get.
Tell us about your creative approach for styling Taraji for major events like the Emmy Awards.
Taraji is a workaholic, so she is consumed in her craft, and the positive thing about being a part to her team is that she believes in me and lets me do my thing. I bring her an idea, I say, babe this is really what I’m feeling, this is what we should do, we just did this on the last carpet, how do we outdo ourselves yet stay consistent. She loves the idea and there’s nothing really long and drawn out about it. She’s no diva. This is all fun for her and we laugh throughout the whole process.
What is Taraji wearing tonight at the 68th Annual Emmy Awards?
She is America’s sunshine tonight in a custom yellow, minimal, and sexy yet elegant custom Vera Wang dress. The bodice is fit to perfection, and the dress hits the floor with two thigh high modern slits on the side. We want to show you what a superstar looks like in an effortless way. I get so excited just thinking about it because it’s a stunning sunshine yellow silk crepe dress that is altered to perfection. The color is show stopping, and it’s also the first carpet of award season, so we wanted to start off with something bright and hold onto the end of summer a little bit. For accessories we went with a pair of yellow gold diamond marquis-cut stud earrings, a yellow gold braided cuff with marquis-cut diamonds set throughout, two art deco styled yellow tennis bracelets and a rose-cut diamond ring, all by all by Lorraine Schwartz. She’s also wearing a pair of yellow gold Jimmy Choo sandals with a single strap across the ankle and toe along with an Edie Parker signature monogram clutch with her initials “T.P.H.”
What does Taraji get excited about style wise?
Everything! If they have a stereotype about women and shopping, Taraji kinda fits that stereotype. She loves shopping and she loves fashion — vintage to new to future. She’s a girl who keeps me on my toes because she’s finding breaking new designers she loves and she is really into fashion, art and style.
How do you push her and how does she push you to try new looks?
We really have a really amazing normal relationship, so the push there is when I want to try something is we try it and vice versa. The fun part of it is that we try it and we laugh if it’s awful and high five and get a glass of wine if it’s great. We don’t really live in a space of risk, because if it works, it’s not a risk, it’s our thing. When Taraji does things there’s a huge separation from what Cookie does because we still want people to know that she’s a bona fide, serious actress, and that Cookie is just a portion of what she can do. That’s her 9-5, but when she’s on the carpet she’s showing the world I am broader than all of that, so we always have to make sure that we don’t cross to close to what Cookie does on Empire.
What colors work best on her – she seems to wear a lot of colors. Is that your influence?
For me, white is her thing and she looks fantastic in it. She also looks really chic in nudes and whites. She has the skin tone, where if you put her in nude, it looks like the garments have been painted on her.
What’s your favorite red carpet look that you have put her in and why?
I love the nude long sleeve plunging neckline Balmain she wore to the NAACP awards. The dress was stuck in customs and she was going to wear something else, but when I got a hold of it, I pulled it out of my bag and she tried it on. She told me she’s not taking it off, and I told her I didn’t want her to take it off. There were no alterations or anything. You hear stories about stars who have multiple fittings and tons of options, but Taraji needs clarity and she does not need a shit load of options because she is so secure in who she is, and for me that is exactly why we work so well together.