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Taraji P. Henson on Her Evolving Style: 'It Took Me a While to Get on the Chic Bus'

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You know her on-screen as the strong-willed (and super-stylish) Cookie Lyons on Fox’s hit show Empire, but away from the cameras, Taraji P. Henson is still coming into her own as a modern-day fashion star. Or so she says in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Taraji P. Henson in Harpers
Michael Avedon

“It took me a while to get on the chic bus,” she says in the mag‘s September issue of her evolving personal style. “I was coming from the era of Lil’ Kim and Mary J. Blige, you know, ghetto fabulous. I came from nothing, I was deprived all my life, so when you get money, you go big!”

Henson’s on-screen persona, Cookie, follows the same “go big or go home” style mantra as the star and has quickly become one of the most fashion-forward characters on TV. And for good reason — her elaborate on-screen style includes pieces from Henson’s personal wardrobe. But out of all of Cookie’s bold ensembles, Henson says there’s one that will always be her favorite.

“Alaïa black catsuit, hands down,” she admits. “I’ve even worn some of my own stuff, like my Balmain leather. I have to meet [Balmain designer] Olivier Rousteing; I need to be his friend.”

Taraji P. Henson in Harpers
Michael Avedon

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Aside from bringing bits of her own wardrobe to the character, Henson says Cookie’s strong will is inspired by her late father.

“He had no buffer. He spoke the truth,” she says. “It’s heroic because in this society we have been trained to be politically correct. Political correctness is bullshit.”

She adds: “If I ask you a question right now, the first thing that comes in your mind is the truth. But we’ve all be been trained to breathe, digest the question and manipulate the answer. Cookie doesn’t do that.”

What do you think of Taraji’s style? Do you have a favorite Cookie look? Share below!

–Sarah Kinonen

RELATED VIDEO: How Taraji P. Henson Turned $700 into Her Own [ITALIC “Empire”]