In the world of fashion, there are the perpetually stylish, and there are icons. To the surprise of virtually no one who’s kept an eye on the red carpet over the past few years, Zendaya falls in the latter category, serving a seemingly ceaseless series of stylistic slays that have only evolved along with career. The former Disney kid is now an A-list actress and producer, in addition to being a singer, model and occasional designer, having partnered with Tommy Hilfiger in 2019 to create a collaborative collection.
Now, all that dynamism is being recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which on Wednesday announced Zendaya as the 2021 recipient of the Fashion Icon award, to be awarded at the annual CFDA Awards—also considered the “Oscars of Fashion”—on November 10.
“Zendaya’s journey to Fashion Icon superstar happened at supersonic speed,” the CFDA captioned a post on Instagram. “Time and again, she has proven that she is unafraid to take risks—from betting on newer talents like Peter Do to working with established houses like Valentino and, as was the case at [Monday] night’s London premiere of Dune, Rick Owens. With some help from her creative counterpart [@Law Roach], #zendaya has given fans and fashion followers worldwide a seemingly countless number of glamorous red carpet looks to remember.”
We couldn’t agree more—and frankly, haven’t been able to tear our eyes away since Z first captured our attention (and gracefully navigating the resulting controversy sparked by former E! host Giuliana Rancic) wearing faux locs to the 2015 Academy Awards. That was well before she became a household name, an ascension that was assisted by both an on- and off-camera strategy, thanks to Zendaya’s partner in style, “image architect” Law Roach, who leads her all-Black glam squad.
“Nobody wanted to dress her when she wasn’t known,” Roach, who was a co-collaborator on the Hilfiger collections (and Zendaya’s epic Cinderella-inspired gown for the 2019 Met Gala), told The Guardian in 2018. “I would put [Zendaya] in things that other people had already worn. [Soon] people started to know her name.”
Indeed, the CFDA honor is equally his, as Roach—who also dresses Celine Dion, Kerry Washington and Tiffany Haddish (among others)—has made Zendaya his muse (and close friend). Not that she’s difficult to dress, with proportions and mainstream-friendly features that would easily place her among the world’s supermodels, if she didn’t have so many other talents. It would perhaps be infuriating if she wasn’t also so aware of her privilege. Instead, it’s impossible not to root for Zendaya, who became the youngest actress to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in Euphoria, which she also produces.
Likewise, at 25 years old, Zendaya will reportedly also be the youngest recipient of the coveted Fashion Icon Award, following in the well-heeled footsteps of Rihanna (2014), Beyoncé (2016), Naomi Campbell (2018), Jennifer Lopez (2019) and more. In honor of yet another milestone for the ingenue, we’ve compiled 25 of Zendaya’s latest—and greatest—hits.
Now, we just can’t wait to she what she’ll wear to the big event—congrats to Zendaya and her squad!