Even if Law Roach is not your face, chances are you have seen his work. Imagine Zendaya in her 2015 Oscars outfit. It was a delicate white satin Vivienne Westwood gown with cascade brunette dreadlocks. This led to a discussion on discrimination against Black hair. Or the 20-foot-wide Giambattista Valli tulle dress Ariana Grand wore to the 2020 Grammys. Or the vintage Bob Mackie wedding dress was worn to the premiere of Emma the same year. These timeless looks are the result of Roach, a Chicago-born stylist who is known for his ability to create fashion moments that stand out from the crowd on a red carpet.
Roach was awarded the first-ever Council of Fashion Designers of America Stylist of the year award Monday night — his second major professional honor in just two months. He was also named to the TIME100 Next List of emerging leaders in their respective industries at the end of September. Roach was the first Black person to be ranked among The Hollywood Reporter’s “Most Powerful Stylists” in their annual rankings. He won it again in 2022.
He said that he was nervous about the ceremony and that he felt it was too close to him. “I live in a bubble, where my work is the most important thing. This is why I don’t think I have enough time to truly understand the importance of these things. It’s always “Oh, I’m so thankful.” “I’m humbled and sincerely grateful, but I have to get to work.”
This is a trait that can be traced back to Roach’s humble beginnings as a retail salesman. He started selling secondhand items out of his car to friends and opened Deliciously Vintage in Halstead, Chicago. After a chance meeting with Kanye West in 2009, he was introduced to styling as a profession. We started getting calls from stylists all over the world. New York, L.A. London, Paris. It was amazing to me that this job is available to so many people.”
He soon began to believe in himself and bluff. He said, “It was fake it ’till it makes sense.” “When I met people, that’s what I would say. “I would say, “I’m a stylist.” It’s impossible to fake it today. Roach has over 1.2 million Instagram followers and six assistants in Europe and the US to manage his impressive client list, which includes Grande and Taylor-Joy.
His career is intimately intertwined with the Emmy-winning actor who he affectionately calls his “annoying little brother.” Zendaya was 14 when they met during the premiere season of “Shake it Up,” her Disney series. Roach said that it was through their creative relationship, that he learned the realities of celebrity styling. “I had to learn the intricacies of stylistic because I didn’t have anyone to mentor me, and I wasn’t an assistant or intern.”
Roach is the only Zendaya stylist Roach — who made history in 2021 as the youngest recipient of the CFDA Fashion Icon award — has ever collaborated with. Roach said, “We kinda grew up together and we built our careers jointly.” We’re still working together and will likely continue to work together for the next 30+ years if we so choose. We have also become a blueprint for how people want their stylist and talent relationship to look, which is beautiful.
They have created a fashion empire together. The duo has created a diverse collection of Met Gala looks that includes a Joan of Arc-inspired look with Versace and chainmail, as well as subversive red carpet moments like the hot pink Tom Ford chrome breastplate at the 2020 Critics Choice awards.
Roach was completely dependent on Zendaya’s narration to create Zendaya’s “Dune” press tour outfits. “All her clothes were inspired by the movie, but it wasn’t until Venice that I saw it.” He said that it was her descriptiveness. Roach claims that Zendaya had chosen the headline-grabbing leather bodycon Balmain dress she wore to the Venice Film Festival premiere. She also wore it to Paris’s Fall-Winter 2020 Ready to Wear shows. “When that collection walked she said, ‘This dress is very Dune’ and I reached to Olivier and his crew.”
Even though viral moments are fleeting, they can have a powerful impact on social media trends. Roach has been able to harness many of these trends in social media. A street-style photo of Celine Dion in a Vetements hoodie with Titanic-themed graphics was taken by Roach in 2016. (Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, the main soundtrack of James Cameron’s 1997 movie, was also used. She is now a well-known fashion icon.
Roach said that he believes that social media is a benefit to him. However, he insists that virality is something he doesn’t think about. He said, “Sometimes we get caught up in (thinking that) you’re only good as your last glance.” There is a mental pressure to be successful, but also to remain relevant and successful. You need to do things that attract people to want to work with you. It’s more than just about finding the most beautiful dress.
Roach is a celebrity even though his job could easily have seen him leave behind-the-scenes. Roach was a judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” and currently serves as the judging panel member for HBO Max’s “Legendary.” His critiques and commentary are very much his own.
While many may find the spotlight daunting, Roach believes that fashion representation is more important than ever. He said that he didn’t have any references for someone who looked like him because he was from the same area. “I was a poor Black boy from Chicago’s Southside, so little Black boys can now say that ‘Well Law’ is a success.
The red carpet is starting to get busy with awards and Hollywood on the speed dial. So, it begs the question: Who is Roach’s top pick? The powerhouse answers the question without a quick lament about not being able to dress Prince.