In an ‘Empire’ state of mind

Gabourey Sidibe, Terrence Howard, Mira Pak at the Saks Fifth Avenue event.
Gabourey Sidibe, Terrence Howard, Mira Pak at the Saks Fifth Avenue event. Will Ragozzino/BFA/Sipa USA

If city folks were unclear that Fox’s hit show Empire returns for season 2 on Sept. 23, they need only head over to Saks Fifth Avenue for the 411.

On Saturday, in conjunction with New York Fashion Week, the high-end department store hosted members of the cast at an event to show off a new curated collection inspired by the series that follows the behind-the-scenes drama of a NYC record label. The street-chic styles include debonair men’s suits, sneakers with shimmery embellishments and animal-print dresses that over-the-top Cookie (Taraji Henson) would devour. Empire-ish pieces are available on and in store.

Among the show’s stars posing on a red carpet set up on the 8th floor: Gabourey Sibidie; Kaitlin Doubleday; Jussie Smollet; guest star Naomi Campbell; and a runway ready Terrence Howard. Empire’s leading man, aka Lucious Lyon, was all smiles, showing no hint of the personal turmoil the actor’s been dealing with of late (two angry ex-wives: You do the math). They all later made their way to Carnegie Hall for the show’s premiere.

Saks was buzzing with celebrity action for NYFW. The day before, shoe legend Manolo Blahnik made a rare appearance to promote his coffee table book, Fleeting Gestures & Obsessions (Rizzoli, $150) about what has inspired the 72-year-old Spaniard throughout his career. Big spenders who purchased a pair of Blahnik’s famed stilettos got his autograph on the soles.


On Sunday, at an event celebrating the fashions of Shenzhen, China, at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square, Miss Universe Paulina Vega was feeling bittersweet. Her reign is coming to an end in a few months.

“I know, it’s time,” said Vega, who was crowned in January at the 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant at FIU and based at the Trump National Doral Miami. “But it will be hard to say goodbye. This has been such a great learning experience and opportunity.”

Vega has had the chance to visit Miami since the win and loves it.

“I am in my comfort zone there because so many people speak Spanish,” said the statuesque Colombian. “It’s full of people I can relate to.”

Highlight thus far as queen of the universe?

“At every event I met someone new who added to my life,” said the 22-year-old. “And so many doors have opened for my future.”

Asked if she knew where the next contest will be held, she coyly answered: “Maybe ... China?”

Last week, the Associated Press reported that Donald Trump purchased NBC’s half of the Miss Universe Organization, giving the presidential hopeful full ownership. The location remains to be seen but any questions regarding The Donald were off limits.

Vega, in a lacy blue Nicole Miller dress, had this advice for the next woman to wear the sash:

“Take advantage of every moment. Put your best self forward always.”


In other (Miami-related) NYFW news: Gabrielle Union, aka Mrs. Dwyane Wade, has been spotted around Gotham looking absolutely fabulous. The Being Mary Jane star was photographed in a belted charcoal denim outfit at the Wes Gordon spring/summer presentation. On Saturday, the actress stepped out with her hubby in the Brock Collection’s so-called Dede dress (flouncy, sleeveless) while attending the women’s finals of the 2015 U.S. Open in Queens. The couple just turned their one-year wedding anniversary celebration into a rom-com type trailer costarring Kevin Hart that you can watch on