It’s one thing to construct the looks of of-the-moment talents like Zendaya and The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor Joy; it’s quite another to hold center stage with two of the industry’s hottest starlets flanking you like couture-clad backup singers. But so it is for 2019 The Root 100 honoree Law Roach, who made Hollywood Reporter history this week as the first Black stylist to be named Top Stylist of the Year.
“[E]ven Mother Nature knows that it’s his moment,” the outlet quipped, referring to the truly iconic moment a swift and seriously flattering breeze magically kicked up just as his “sister” Zendaya stepped onto the red carpet in strapless citron chiffon by Valentino at this year’s Academy Awards.
The “image architect” with the IG handle “Luxury Law” was not throwin’ away his shot while commemorating this rare and groundbreaking honor: In THR’s spread, the stylist has his own windblown Valentino moment, donning a gold tinsel coat by Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli and matching gold mirrored platform stilettos to make his point about his influence on Hollywood—literally.
“The little Black boy who wore couture,” the Chicago native, who once owned a vintage store in his hometown, wrote on Instagram, adding: “thank you all for letting me live out my [Naomi Campbell] dream. Thank you to this man holding the fan!”
I mean, seriously—whose silk press has ever done it better? We fully expect Zendaya to roll up at September’s postponed Met Gala dressed as one of Law’s legs—the theme is “American Independence,” after all.
Independent, Law is—as he notes, he built Zendaya’s now fashion icon status from the ground up with primarily smaller independent brands when luxury houses wouldn’t take his calls. Now, he’s the gatekeeper when it comes to dressing one of the most in-demand starlets in Hollywood.
“[Outside of editorials] she’s never worn Gucci, she’s never worn Chanel. She’s never worn Dior. She’s never worn Saint Laurent,” he tells THR of Zendaya’s red carpet looks. “And she had never worn Valentino until she became the face of Valentino. So, it’s quite incredible that we can build that just using smaller and emergent brands and designers. I think it’s really beautiful.”
The two have also created an informal but equally beautiful collaborative think tank when it comes to honoring the enduring influence of Blackness upon fashion and Hollywood, as noted by THR:
The pair also use clothes to remind others of often overlooked Black fashion moments. For last month’s Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards luncheon, the star wore a pale blue, puffed-shoulder Yves Saint Laurent dress once worn by Ebony magazine co-founder and Fashion Fair cosmetics founder Eunice Johnson. “There has been whitewashing and washing out of certain people,” Roach says. “Nobody asked us to do this, but [we’re] just taking upon ourselves to make sure that we keep these icons alive and keep talking about them.”
That includes working with protégées and photographers Donte Maurice and Ahmad Barber (also known as AB + DM), who shot Zendaya’s first cover for InStyle and the THR cover. And then, there’s that incredible silver gown Zendaya wore in Malcolm & Marie, commissioned by first-time costume designer Law as a collaboration with fellow stylist and Aliétte designer Jason Rembert, and further proving Law’s equal commitment to promoting fellow Black talents.
“When I got hit up by my brother @luxurylaw to do a custom dress last year...I don’t think I understood the magnitude of what it was,” Rembert wrote on Instagram as the film debuted this February. “To make a dress for Law’s debut as a costume designer, and to make a dress for one of the most dynamic leading ladies of our time..I’m just humbled! The process, the opportunity, the love, the commitment, the beauty of being able to create and to design something that is timeless...I’m just honored!”
“If you look at the top Black stylists, it’s me. It’s Micah [McDonald] and Wayman [Bannerman, of Wayman + Micah]. It’s Jason Bolden. [Editor’s note: All three, along with TGU 50 honoree and Black Owned Everything creator Zerina Akers, Wouri Vice (who dresses Andra Day), and veteran stylist June Ambrose got well-deserved mentions on this year’s list.] Roach, who currently runs a “a global, multimillion-dollar business” in addition to being a judge on HBO’s ballroom competition Legendary, added: “I’m the only one who has dressed and continues to dress A-list white talent, as well as my Black talent. That’s because there’s a system in Hollywood where new talent and those girls are funneled through the same group of people, … I always call them the same five white women. That’s just the system...
“Our work is much more visible, but I don’t think it’s changing the landscape of how we get those girls. Because, to be really honest with you, the way people make the [THR Stylist] List is based on awards season. Not a lot of Black stylists get the opportunity to get on the list because they don’t get the opportunity to work with the talent that’s going to the Oscars, the Globes. We just don’t get that opportunity,” he added.
Even in the era of COVID, Law has been working to create more opportunity while also honoring his roots, raising over $100,000 for Black-owned businesses in his hometown of Chicago this year through his fLAWless initiative, in collaboration with the community revitalization nonprofit Rebuild the Hood.
“It makes me proud because when I have a vision and work on somebody who has a vision and it comes to life, it’s like, ‘Wow, look at this little boy from the South Side of Chicago, creating these looks that will be iconic and people will talk about,’ long after I’m gone, I think,” Law muses. “For those houses to respect my opinions and to appreciate my taste level, I think, is really quite incredible.”