Who is Law Roach, the man behind Zendaya's red carpet style, and why is he retiring?

The stylist, who is among the most influential in fashion, sent shockwaves through the industry when he announced his retirement

Law Roach, left, and Zendaya attend the CFDA Fashion Awards in November 2021. AP
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Zendaya has often been hailed as one of the world’s most stylish women, thanks in no small part to her man behind the scenes, stylist Law Roach.

In fact, Roach is one of the most influential names in the business, so when he announced his retirement via Instagram on Tuesday — only a matter of days after styling a number of A-list stars for the Oscars — it sent shock waves through the industry.

Who is Law Roach?

Back in 2011, Roach owned a chain of vintage clothing boutiques called Deliciously Vintage, with branches in Chicago and Harlem, New York. The boutique took current runway trends and found vintage items that channelled similar themes, and caught the attention of several celebrity clients — including Kanye West.

But it was a chance connection with the father of Zendaya, then a rising Disney star, that would change the course of his career. “A woman who was a client of the store was a really good friend of Zendaya's dad," Roach said in a 2017 interview with Fashionista. "I'll never forget this: Zendaya was going to Justin Bieber's Never Say Never premiere and she didn't have anything to wear. They were going shopping and the client said, 'Law said he's a stylist, you should go along.' So I did, and we've been together ever since."

Zendaya and Law Roach at the 2019 Met Gala. The actress is dressed as Cinderella in a light-up Tommy Hilfiger gown. EPA

Together, the pair have created some of the most memorable red carpet looks in recent years, including the Cinderella-inspired light-up Tommy Hilfiger dress Zendaya wore for the 2019 Met Gala, for which Law accompanied her, dressed as her fairy godmother, magic wand and all.

He is also responsible for another fairy tale moment with one of his other his A-list clients, Ariana Grande. Roach dressed the star for the 2020 Grammy Awards, where she wore an extravagant tulle dove grey gown by Giambattista Valli.

epa08168493 Ariana Grande arrives for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 26 January 2020.  Dress by Giambattista Valli.   EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT ALTERNATIVE CROP

Roach also counts Anya Taylor-Joy, Tom Holland, Celine Dion and Kerry Washington among his clients.

So why is Law Roach retiring?

Roach’s retirement announcement on Tuesday seemingly came as a shock to those around him. This year alone, Roach, the self-proclaimed “image architect”, has created some of fashion’s most talked about moments — from Zendaya’s black and green 2002 vintage Versace couture gown at the NAACP Image Awards to the Barbie-inspired Moschino look Bebe Rexha wore on the Grammys red carpet last month.

Scroll through the gallery to see some of Law Roach's most memorable red carpet looks

“My Cup is empty….. thank you to everyone who’ve supported me and my career over the years,” Roach captioned an Instagram picture showing a “retired” stamp. “Every person that trusted me with their image, I’m so grateful for you all. If this business was just about the clothes I would do it for the rest of my life but unfortunately it’s not! The politics, the lies and false narratives finally got me! You win … I’m out.”

So what exactly happened? While it is unclear whether one single incident led to his decision, plenty of others in the industry have echoed his sentiment of politics taking away from the clothes.

Commenting on Roach’s post, fashion designer Michael Costello said: “I wish it was about the clothes. I love fashion so much but the false narratives destroyed my life. They did not destroy my love and passion for design. If people only knew. Love you Law, I’m honoured I was able to be part of your magical journey, we have had some incredible unforgettable moments I will always cherish. I pray that God continues to shine his love and light on you whatever your new journey may be.”

Fellow celebrity stylist Dena Neustadter Giannini, who works with the likes of Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Mescal and Anne Hathaway, wrote: “Retire from the drama but not the fashion!!!!! Beauty and creativity always wins!!!!!!!!”

He also received plenty of support from his industry peers. Editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful wrote: “You will always have a home @britishvogue.”

While supermodel Naomi Campbell said: “Law I won’t let you!!!! We don’t quit .. strived too hard.”

Earlier this month, videos circulating on social media showed Roach arriving at the Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week with Zendaya, who was shown to her seat in the front row.

Roach was not given a seat, and Zendaya is seen pointing out that there is an empty chair behind her in the second row. According to reports, Roach left before the show started.

“He should be in the front row,” one Twitter user wrote sharing the video. “He’s carrying the industry on his back when his peers (a term used loosely) are flopping left and right giving us expensive Fashion Nova-esque looks. If he left, I don’t blame him one bit.”

“I just know he was DONE at this moment, the disrespect,” another said.

“In that world, his name holds just as much weight as hers,” another user said. “All the best-dressed stars right now are dressed almost exclusively by him.”

Zendaya’s appearance at the Louis Vuitton show coincided with her being announced as an ambassador for the French house.

Roach has not made any comment on the incident, or any further comment on his retirement announcement, but judging by the outcry, the industry will do its best to change his mind.

Updated: March 15, 2023, 10:22 AM