‘Image architect’ Law Roach on pivoting to education and Zendaya’s 2024 Met Gala look

After announcing his retirement in 2023, Law Roach is not only still styling "fashion soulmate" Zendaya, but is expanding his empire and influence.

Law Roach, Zendaya, 2024 Met Gala, Black stylists, Black celebrity stylists, Black celebrity style, Black fashion designers, fashion industry, theGrio.com
(Left to right) Law Roach and Zendaya attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The fashion industry is full of mercurial, often mysterious figures, but over the past decade, Law Roach has become one of its most fun to watch. After making his name as the stylist of choice for Celine Dion, Ariana Grande, and “fashion soulmate” Zendaya, the self-designated (and trademarked) “image architect” stunned style watchers when, mere months after being honored as the first-ever Stylist of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in November 2022, Roach announced his retirement in March 2023.

“The politics, the lies, and false narratives finally got me!” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post, following a flurry of rumors that had cast him as a diva in an industry notoriously full of them. “You win … I’m out.”

Just over a year later, Roach admits he’s “the most unretired retired person” in a new profile with the New York Times. Since his announcement, he’s continued orchestrating looks for his top clients, including a trendsetting and headline-making array of looks for Zendaya’s successive “Dune” and “Challengers” press tours. Additionally, the Chicago native, who now calls Los Angeles home, has joined the judging panel of E! network’s new upcycled fashion competition, “OMG Fashun,” and will release his first book, “How to Build a Fashion Icon: Notes on Confidence From the World’s Only Image Architect,” in September.

Arguably, if anyone knows how to craft a modern-day icon, it’s Roach, who styled Zendaya’s transition from 13-year-old Disney tween through her current reign as seemingly unstoppable Hollywood A-lister. It’s a fact he says led to his divestment from often petty politics of celebrity styling. 

“I felt like every time I came into a room, I still had to prove myself. I changed the trajectory of people’s careers, changed their visibility, but I still have to argue for what I think is the best look,” he told the Times. “And if the gatekeepers don’t like the relationship, automatically I became too expensive or too problematic.”

“I think that at the moment I wrote that post, I just wanted to be left alone,” he later noted.

Roach used the downtime wisely, as he not only recalibrated his career but began to consider how he might educate others to do the same. He retreated to the 19-acre Georgia plantation he’d purchased during the pandemic, a reclamation of his heritage and “a safe place for [his] family to go.” In addition to writing his first book, Roach finally took time to grieve the death of his three-year-old nephew Lamar, who died in 2021 after falling from a window.

“So I went through this grieving process for him and for my career,” he shared. “I went through guilt, thinking that people who look up to me were going to see me as a quitter, and sadness.”

Based on his own experiences, Roach began considering what it might take to break down some of the barriers to enter into the fashion industry while simultaneously building upon his already massive influence, “plotting a certification course for would-be stylists, which will, essentially, mass-market and formalize his approach,” the Times reports.

“I always asked the question, ‘Why don’t we see more people who look like me doing this job?’” he said. “We just don’t get the same opportunities. This is one of the ways I’m going to combat that.

“You can take all the master classes you want, but that doesn’t necessarily give you a shot at entering the industry. My idea is, you take a certification course, based on my way of styling,” Roach continued. “There will also be electives from industry people who support the curriculum, like financial literacy — because as an independent contractor, I learned from my mistakes.”

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Now helming his own empire, Roach is thinking even bigger. “We can write books and manuals; we can take what we do with the course and package it and sell it to other people. We could buy a brand. I really want to buy a brand. … It’s a natural transition, I think, from good stylist to good designer or, hopefully, great designer,” he said, noting that late designer Emanuel Ungaro’s namesake label would be a dream purchase. “I want my headline to be “Law Roach, former stylist, now sits at the helm of a billion-dollar company,” he added.

First, Roach has another big headline to make, as Zendaya is set to co-chair this year’s Met Gala on Monday, May 6. The duo has shut down the steps of The Met on several occasions in the past — so, what will the fashion icon wear to embody this year’s official dress code, “The Garden of Time”?

I haven’t seen Zendaya’s dress!” Roach claimed, noting that back-to-back press tours and dual May Vogue covers have kept him a bit distracted, as of late. Keeping mum on the designer, he added, “The dress isn’t even made. They won’t fit until Saturday.”

So for now, it’s safe to say Zendaya will be wearing a dress — and which legendary power couple fashion lovers will be eagerly anticipating, come this first Monday in May.