Disney star to Met Gala icon: Inside Zendaya’s style evolution with stylist Law Roach

She’s an icon, she is the moment

Zendaya’s status as a style icon is indisputable. Her stunning Met Gala looks and insanely on-the-nose movie premiere outfits have placed her in high regard in the fashion industry, and her looks are some of the most eagerly anticipated at Hollywood events.

Zendaya has been on the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, InStyle and pretty much every high-end fashion magazine you can think of. And with the help of her long-time stylist, Law Roach, Zendaya went from sweet Disney child star on Frenemies and Shake it Up to edgy Euphoria actress. So, here’s a look inside the style evolution of Zendaya with her stylist Law Roach to see how she became 2024’s fashion icon:

She’s worked with the same high-end stylist since she was 13

via Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Zendaya’s stylist, or “creative director” as she has previously dubbed him, is Law Roach and they have a closer relationship than most stylist-star duos. Law calls them “the perfect balance” after he took a risk on a young Disney Channel actress when he was just starting out, and she’s remained a loyal client and close friend until now, when she’s 27.

Law actually retired in March 2023, citing the fashion industry’s deep-rooted racism and nepotism as one of the reasons. However, he couldn’t stay away from Zendaya for long, and has since returned to his work as a stylist with a more exclusive attitude on who he works with – and Zendaya was one of the first to make the cut. “I’ve been saying no to a lot of unhappy people,” Law told The New York Times after his return, “except Zendaya. I can’t say no to her.”

She intentionally got on ‘who wore it better’ columns

— E! Online Canada (@EOnlineCanada) August 20, 2015

Law has told The Cut that when him and Zendaya started out they struggled to work with designers. “Nobody wanted to lend me clothes, nobody wanted to dress her, ‘cause at that time Disney Girls weren’t considered real actresses,” he said.

Law would intentionally get Zendaya’s outfits from vintage archives that had already been worn by other celebrities to get Zendaya’s name in “who wore it better” columns. He said that turning Zendaya into a person designers wanted to work with was “about press,” because “whoever gets the most press gets the dress.” Zendaya was often crowned the winner of these columns and became a well-known name by the brands that had previously rejected her.

She was rejected by big brands including Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Valentino and Saint Laurent, and hasn’t worn those brands since she started, with Law saying on The Cutting Room Floor in March that he told brands that saying no would mean a no forever. He clarified that she only wore Valentino after she had a contract.

She’s worn the same staple heel since she was 14

Zendaya stylist Law Roach

via Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

Zendaya’s staple shoe is the Christian Louboutin So Kate 120 pump, which she’s been wearing since her Disney days. The shoes have a thin stiletto heel and are known to be incredibly uncomfortable so she originally didn’t want to wear them when she was 14 because of this. However, Law kept making sure she wore them and eventually she could “wear them all day, she could dance in ‘em, she could kick her legs up, she can run down stairs.” Law’s tactic of making fashion brands approach her worked, and she was recently sent 40 pairs of So Kates by Louboutin for the Challengers premiere.

She follows ‘method dressing’ for press tours and premieres

Zendaya stylist Law Roach

via Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

Vogue says that “method dressing” is when an actor dresses in the theme of the film they are promoting. Zendaya has done this for years, from her red and blue Spider Man: Far From Home premiere dress to her sand-like Venice Film Festival Dune-related look and her tennis-themed Challengers dresses. You can’t see a photo of Zendaya without knowing exactly what project she was wearing the outfit for.

She’s intentionally taken risks with her outfits

Zendaya stylist Law Roach

via Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

Law Roach has called Zendaya and himself “big idea, small detail” because as her stylist he comes up with wild fashion choices and she tones them down to create the perfect look. “I write the script, and she does the rewrites,” he said to The New York Times.

The Challengers actress is known for her unique but perfectly pulled off outfits as a result of Law’s creative direction. She’s worn a lot of archival looks for sustainability, dressing in a metallic outfit from a Thierry Mugler fashion show in 1995 for the Dune: Part Two premiere. Other famously wild looks include a butterfly-themed Moschino dress for The Greatest Showman’s premiere and a heavy chain metal armour-like look for the 2018 Met Gala.

She’s become a Met Gala icon

Zendaya stylist Law Roach

via Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Zendaya made her Met Gala debut in 2015 as an 18-year-old in a custom Fausto Puglisi black dress with a large red skirt and sun-shaped images. She attended the gala for the next four years and then took a five year break after her light up cinderella-themed dress in 2019 stunned fans.

She was made one of the Met Gala co-chairs for 2024, where she wore three different looks; a blue and green one-shouldered dress, a black John Galliano long-sleeved corseted dress with a floral headpiece and a white, sparkly Celia Kritharioti gown. She’s truly a style icon.

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