Law Roach discusses the designers Zendaya never wears

Law Roach discusses Zendaya’s evolution in fashion — and why certain designers will never dress the A-lister.

Law Roach, Zendaya, Black fashion icons, Annie Leibovitz, American Vogue, Black fashion, Black style, Black stylists, Black designers,
Law Roach attends The 2024 Met Gala Celebrating "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

If you can believe it, Zendaya, a name widely synonymous with words like “style” and phrases like “IT girl,” has never worn Chanel or Dior on a red carpet. That’s because while God forgives, Law Roach may be a different story, especially regarding legacy design houses. The stylist and image architect recently revealed five legendary fashion houses that rejected his top client, Zendaya, early in her career. Most have yet to be publicly worn by the now A-lister.

On a recent episode of “The Cutting Room Floor” podcast hosted by designer Recho Omondi, Roach, who has worked with Zendaya since she was 14, opened up about Chanel, Saint Laurent, Dior, Gucci and Valentino turning him down when he reached out during the former Disney star’s ascent.

“I would write to them … and they would all say no. ‘Try again next year;’ ‘she’s too green;’ ‘she’s not on our calendar,’” Roach recalled hearing at the time, adding that he still has “all the receipts.”

“By the time she had got to American Vogue, she still had never worn any of those designers,” he said. “She still hasn’t.”

For Zendaya’s first American Vogue cover shoot, in 2017, she wore outfits by Prada, Gigi Burris Millinery, Fausto Puglisi, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg.

Omondi was shocked and asked Roach to clarify. The stylist confirmed that years after being slighted, Zendaya has worn only one “Big 5” designer on red carpets or press tours. “She only wore Valentino when she got a Valentino campaign,” he explained, later adding, “If you say no, it’ll be a no forever.”

Zendaya’s rise as a fashion MVP was marked by standout fashions from some of the world’s most revered legacy designers. Her stylistic highlights include headline-grabbing Met Gala looks by Tommy Hilfiger, Versace and John Galliano, and show-stopping, thematic press tours with outfits by Mugler.

Roach doesn’t just work with top designers to devise custom couture looks; he also sources archival and vintage looks, often buying them outright. However, despite how far he and Zendaya have come in fashion, they still face occasional apprehension. Roach said when he initially contacted Mugler about sourcing its iconic robot suit for a “Dune” press stop, the brand didn’t think the archival piece fit. After Omondi noted how “cosmic” it was to get Zendaya into that piece, Roach said it was Zendaya’s desire to wear the suit first.

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“When she sent that to me, that was a big idea,” he said. “I was like ‘Are you sure?’ I called her and I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’ I was like ‘Don’t play with me.”

Over the course of the 84-minute episode, Roach also discussed Zendaya’s latest American Vogue cover, shot by Annie Leibovitz in Paris. As a Black woman, Omondi expressed shock that the duo went with Leibovitz, who has a controversial history shooting Black women.

“I would never trust Annie Leibovitz to take my photo,” Ormondi said in questioning the choice, especially considering the option of other noteworthy and less divisive photographers.

Roach said he hadn’t “paid attention” to the controversies surrounding Leibovitz’s previous photo shoots with Black women (including Serena Williams and Simone Biles). He simply wanted a photographer he felt would contribute to the iconic moment.

“To be quite honest, I asked for Annie,” he said. “I trusted her and I also trusted me; and I also trusted Zendaya and I also trusted the clothes I chose.” 

“All you need is me,” he added with a laugh.