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Law Roach: A Short Timeline of a Legendary and Historic Career
It came as a shock to many in the fashion industry — so much so that many still don't believe it.
On Tuesday, March 14, megastylist and "image architect" Law Roach announced that he was retiring. In an Instagram post, he wrote: "My cup is empty. Thank you to everyone who've supported me and my career over the years. 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.”
The news came as a complete shock. Roach is currently an editor of British Vogue and has been working with clients like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Tom Holland, Hunter Schafer, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, and Kerry Washington among others. Late last year, he also debuted a collaboration with French fashion house Hervé Léger. But it seems that could all come to an end.
Why is Law Roach retiring from fashion?
Let's be honest: we don't know, but we can speculate!
If you let Twitter tell it, the decision has something to do with a seating mishap at Louis Vuitton's recent Fall 2023 ready-to-wear show. There was no seat for him beside Zendaya at the show, as evidenced in a now-viral video. (To be clear, what the video doesn't show is that Law was eventually seated in the front row elsewhere.) But that seems highly unlikely as the root cause. Roach operates a "multi-million dollar global business" and has weathered his fair share of industry slights. But reading through his retirement statement and reflecting on one of his old interviews might provide more insight.
Last year, Roach sat down with Jason Lee of Hollywood Unlocked to talk about his career, working with (and splitting from) Tiffany Haddish, and more. In one section, the businessman discussed how he handles the gatekeepers of fashion.
"I'm very opinionated, right" he said. "You can't talk to me any kind of way. You can't treat me any kind of way. I'm coming in and I'm commanding a certain amount of respect. If you not giving me that, we gonna have a problem. I'm not really afraid of this industry because I'm Black, I'm from the hood. I can always go back. I'll aways make money. I'll always get money. I'll always be successful. So if I ever get in a situation where I have to rework who I am and what I'm doing then I'm not afraid of that."
"So I'll walk away from all that shit," he said later. "I'm just a natural-born hustler. I'm going to figure out how to get to the bag. Period"
Looks like a reinvention may be in the works. But let's take a second to take a look back at Roach's career in fashion.
How did Law Roach's career in fashion begin?
In 2022, Law Roach received the CFDA's first-ever Stylist Award, cementing an already legendary career as they described him as the "perfect representation of a modern-day stylist." This was only just over a decade after the Chicago native started his career, initially selling vintage finds. He had started selling them out of the trunk of his car before opening locations of his Deliciously Vintage shop in Chicago and Harlem. Kanye West put the store on the style map after visiting once in 2009, and then Roach started to dabble in styling, working for K. Michelle, who was his first paying client as a stylist. But as he told us in his Out100 cover story, none of it was paying the bills.
"I would go back to Chicago and get behind the bar on the weekend and that's what supported me," he told us in 2021, reflecting on his career as a bartender. "Back then I was taking care of my little brother who I had custody of and the bartending fed us."
While Roach would eventually relocate to Los Angeles to pursue styling, he never did forget Chicago. In 2020 he raised $100,000 to support small, uninsured Black-owned businesses damaged in the wake of the city's uprisings.
How did Law Roach and Zendaya's relationship start?
Inarguably, Law Roach's longest, most celebrated, and most fruitful client relationship has been with Zendaya. It started while Zendaya was still a Disney star. At the time, Roach was a friend of Zendaya's father's friend. As the tale goes, he styled the then 14-year-old for a premiere of Justin Bieber's Never Say Never film in 2011, and the two have been collaborating ever since. In 2014, the pair had a major breakthrough when Zendaya became a street-style darling after stepping out in a Muiniko coat during New York Fashion Week. An image of the look covered the next day's issue of WWD and it also made it on Fashion Police.
That look came only a month after she made a splash at the Grammys in a design from Emanuel Ungaro. Roach once told Fashionistait was a look he had to fight for but ended up on best-dressed lists with that kicked off a relationship with Ungaro that ultimately led to them dressing Zendaya for her for Met Gala red carpet. The Grammys moment also made it on Fashion Police.
LaLa Anthony was Law Roach's first Met Gala client.
Over the span of his career, Law Roach has become an important behind-the-scenes figure for the Met Gala red carpet, generally held in May. And though his work with Zendaya on the Met Gala red carpet is what he's most known for (he's also dressed Lewis Hamilton, Celine Dion, and Ariana Grande for the much-anticipated event), he got his start with another star. In 2014, Roach put LaLa Anthony in a custom Cushnie et Ochs gown for the benefit. At the time he was working with names like LaLa and Monica as well as Zendaya.
Zendaya made her Met Gala debut in 2015 and was Roach's second client to attend.
Law Roach helped to reset Celine Dion's fashion profile
Law's client portfolio expanded even further over the years. He started working with names like Willow Shields, Ruby Rose, and Jessie J not long after the LaLa Anthony moment. And though he was getting accolades for most of them, one in particular was a major breakthrough moment: Celine Dion.
The image architect started working with the icon in 2016 for Paris Fashion Week and turned her into an instant street-style star wearing everything from Saint Laurent to Vetements. In the process of working together, Celine got her first-ever invitation to attend the Met Gala.
Law Roach becomes judge on the 'America's Next Top Model' reboot.
While he may be more known for his role as the divisive judge on HBO Max's Legendary, Law Roach started judging on reality television competitions before that. When America's Next Top Model was rebooted with Ashley Graham as the host, Roach came on as a permanent judge. The team lasted for two seasons.
But Roach has made it a habit to be involved with young designers and designer competitions. In addition to dressing his clients in young designers, he has helped judge competitions and award hundreds of thousands of dollars shaping the new generation. He worked with Supima, judging (and sometimes hosting!) their design competition for years. He also was a judge in Shein's design competition and has made cameos on competition shows like HBO Max's The Hype.
Law Roach becomes the first Black stylist to cover THR's Most Powerful Stylist issue.
In 2017, Roach made history covering The Hollywood Reporter's Most Powerful Stylists issue. He came in at number 21 on the list but was shot for the cover alongside Celine and Zendaya.
In 2021 he made history again, becoming the first Black stylist to be named Hollywood's Most Powerful Stylist and getting another cover in the process. For that moment, he appeared alongside then-client Anya Taylor-Joy, but had also added names like Aldis Hodge and Halsey to his ever-growing list. When 2022 came it was almost a given that he would receive the number one slot again. While he didn't receive a cover, he was celebrated inside for his work with Venus Williams and the 30 looks that comprised Zendaya's Spider-Man: No Way Home, Dune, and Euphoria press tours.
Law Roach appears in Vogue for Zendaya's first cover.
For a stylist, it's a good sign when Vogue decides your client has what it takes to be a cover girl. So one can only imagine what it might mean for Vogue not only to decide that the client is right for Vogue, but that the stylist deserves to be in one of the images as well. In 2017, that's exactly what happened for Roach.
Roach did not style the shoot, as American Vogue exercises tight reigns over its covers. He styled his first cover for an issue of Vogue in 2020 when he styled Zendaya forVogue Hong Kong.
Law Roach styles Mary J. Blige for her Oscars performance.
It was at this point that Roach's career was a little crazy. In addition to all the other clients he had worked with, he picked up names like Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Jada Pinkett Smith, and more. He even styled Mariah Carey for the 2018 Golden Globes as well as Kylie Jenner for shoots with GQ Germany and GQ Mexico. But the 2018 Oscars were a big deal.
In addition to styling Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Mary J. Blige for the red carpet at that year's Academy Awards, he also put Blige in a beautiful custom Vera Wang gown for her performance onstage.
Law Roach styled Ariana Grande for years.
Roach styled pop star Ariana Grande for years. For red carpets, her Dangerous Woman tour, 13 music videos, the Met Gala... all her major moments. In fact, their collaboration eventually led to Grande inking a Givenchy deal with her as the face of the campaign and him as the stylist. That deal was announced in 2019.
It was quite the moment, and in the years to follow, he picked up names like Tracee Ellis Ross, Anne Hathaway, Tiffany Haddish, and Naomie Harris.
Law Roach and Zendaya collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger.
In 2019, Tommy Hilfiger launched a collaboration with Zendaya and Law Roach. For it, the brand put on two blockbuster fashion shows: the first in Harlem and the second in Paris. The collection sold out.
This was a slight continuation for Roach and Zendaya, who had previously collaborated on Daya, Zendaya's apparel and footwear line. It was eventually shuttered. But Roach got his own deal inking a design collaboration with Hervé Léger in 2022.
Law Roach becomes an editor of British Vogue.
In addition to his career as a celebrity stylist and a television personality, Roach began building up a portfolio of editorial shoots. He started shooting covers for magazines: Kim Kardashian for New York Magazine, Mariah Carey for Variety, and Zendaya for everyone. In 2021, it all culminated into what he called the biggest cover of his career (it was his 19th cover of 2021 in fact), which was styling Zendaya for British Vogue.
The opportunity kicked off a relationship with British Vogue that in 2022 culminated in Roach being named Contributing West Coast editor. Since then, he's worked across international issues like Vogue Italia, Vogue Singapore, and Vogue Germany.
What is Law Roach's legacy?
Roach has built an unsurpassed multi-million dollar global styling business that spans red carpet and celebrity dressing, to editorials, campaigns, and even design. He also has fashioned himself into a public persona that has his own level of celebrity and attention. Enough to book covers with himself as the sole subject.
But most importantly, Roach has created a legacy for himself as a storyteller. When he was first starting out in the business and major brands didn't want to lend to him clients, he started working with younger, less-known names and continued to do so as his stars grew. His work with Bella Hadid and Zendaya brought vintage for the red carpet back in a major way that runs counter to the way the industry typically works. And from a position of power, he's always been vocal about the way the industry has treated Black talent, advocating for change using his own experiences as examples.
There's no telling what he's doing to do next (he could change his mind and be styling again by tomorrow), but no matter what, we're sure it'll be more industry-changing work, even if in a new sector.