Law Roach: the stylist who transformed Cline Dion and Zendaya

Bowie mullets, dreadlocks, angel wings? Meet the man behind some of the most daring red carpet looks

Ariana Grande

Law Roach swipes the key card to his penthouse suite and a little red light signals no entry. When the same thing happens again, he sinks slowly to the floor, phoning his assistant to inform her, wearily, Wrong key. Its the wrong key. Its been a long New York fashion week, and Roach, the most hyped celebrity stylist working in the US today, is tired.

This week, Roach has been dressing comedian and actor Tiffany Haddish, and its been the usual merry-go-round of shows, including his first catwalk styling gig, for Chinese brand Bosideng. An interesting one, because the designer spoke no English and I spoke no Mandarin, Roach tells me. But the language of fashion is so strong, during fittings we would just look at each other with a yes or a no.

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Then there have been the parties, culminating in Rihannas Diamond Ball, to which he wore Schiaparelli couture. Declaring himself a lover of vintage and thrifty clothes, Roach today sports a more low-key look: a black polyester tracksuit with 1970s-style flared pants, a pair of beat-up Converse hi-tops and a quilted leather cap by Chanel. He often wears an elaborate hair weave, but today his head is shorn smooth.

Finally, the correct key arrives. Inside the suite, it looks like a fashion week bomb has gone off. Settling on a sofa amid racks of clothes, half-eaten sandwiches and garment bags exploding with sequins and stilettos, Roach exudes the nonchalant cool of somebody who could make a bin bag look chic. I think fashion and style are two totally different things, he says. You cant teach style. You either have it or you dont. It has nothing to do with access. It has nothing to do with labels.

Celine
Cline Dion in Giambattista Valli dress. Photograph: Getty Images

Known as @luxurylaw to his 370,000 Instagram followers, Roach is now a TV star in his own right, having just filmed his second series as a judge on Americas Next Top Model. He is the man responsible for Cline Dions 2016 transformation, practically overnight, from midlife chanteuse to fashion maven, and for catapulting breakout Disney star Zendaya into the spotlight. In May, he made number 12 in the Hollywood Reporters Most Powerful Stylists list, an accolade that, according to his agency, makes him the biggest African American stylist in the game.

Considering the term stylist to be overused, however, Roach prefers to think of himself as an image architect. Its a term that reflects the shifting role of celebrity dressers in 2018, where one killer look going viral on social media can lead to overnight fame (with the lucrative contracts to match), and campaigns such as Times Up have turned the red carpet into a political platform. What I do is similar to what an architect does, Roach explains. The surveying, building a blueprint, sourcing materials, all that. But Im doing it with clothes, jewellery, hair and makeup.

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Its all a long way from his humble roots growing up in Chicago, the eldest of five children. It was really, really tough, he says. I didnt have the most stable family dynamic, so I figured out early on that I had to make my own way. Fashion, as paraded on reruns of Dynasty and Charlies Angels, was his escape. As for any ambitions about working in the industry, I never really thought that, because I didnt know there was an industry.

It was his grandmother Eloise who introduced him to vintage shopping, or what she called junking. I would go through the womens racks out of curiosity and buy a few things here and there. As Roachs collection grew, he stashed the clothes in the boot of his car (my mother thought it was weird and hated the smell). Before long, he was loaning things to his most stylish girlfriends, and when they began fighting over pieces at makeshift boot sales, I was like, Oh shit, this is a business.

The
Zendaya rocks a mullet. Photograph: FilmMagic

There followed a bricks-and-mortar store, Deliciously Vintage, and eventually personal clients. One moved to LA and flew Roach out for a shopping session, where a serendipitous meeting led to his break into the world of red-carpet dressing. The day I arrived, a beautiful girl came by with her dad, and it was Zendaya, he says. She was 14 at the time; Roach ended up taking her shopping for an outfit for Justin Biebers Never Say Never premiere. The resulting look was a puke-green, patent-leather Alexander Wang skirt with a silver Alice and Olivia blazer. We were like, People are either gonna love it or hate it, but we love it. The pair have worked together ever since.

At the start, Roach had a tactic for getting Zendaya noticed. Nobody wanted to dress her when she wasnt known, so I would put her in things that other people had already worn. This earned her exposure in the celebrity weeklies Who Wore It Better columns and, soon enough, people started to know her name.

Law
When a client gets dressed, theres this new persona she takes on. Photograph: Caroll Taveras for the Guardian

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How does he feel about being an industry name? Its flattering, he says, but I do what I do because I love women, and playing a part in making them feel beautiful. When a client gets dressed, theres this new walk, this new persona that she takes on. When I see that, it drives me crazy. Its like my drug.

When it comes to his own celebrity, he says, Its more important that people who look like me and who come from where I come from get to see that this is possible. As well as being the highest-ranking African American, he was one of only five black people to be recognised on the Hollywood Reporters stylists list, all of them male. Its the same [white] women on the list every year. And all the new people are the assistants of those women. You get into this industry from interning, and you have to be financially stable to intern for two, three, four years. If you dont come from a family that allows you to do that, then how do you do it?

Celine
Cline Dion in Vetements Titanic sweatshirt. Photograph: FameFlynet

That the fashion industry is elitist and blindingly white is nothing new, and yet, against a backdrop of 2018s call-out culture, designers, retailers and agencies alike are being asked to shake up the status quo or face dying out. In August this year, New York Magazines blog The Cut ran an extended editorial titled What Its Really Like To Be Black And Work In Fashion, in which more than 100 people were interviewed about their experiences in a culture where tokenism is alive and thriving. Among the Council of Fashion Designers of America, only 15 of its 500 members are black. When Tyler Mitchell shot Beyonc for the September 2018 cover of US Vogue, it was a first for a black photographer in the magazines 126-year history.

Roach argues that there needs to be diversity behind the scenes as well as on the red carpet. If youre fighting for inclusion, it has to trickle all the way down to the hair and makeup, to the cameramen and the sound engineers. People say, Isnt it getting better, though? To which I reply, Oh yeah, its getting better for me. But what about everybody else who looks like me? I cant be in this industry and be the only one. I cant do that.

What Roach can do is craft pop-culture moments that position his clients at the centre of the zeitgeist, such as the time he sent Zendaya down the 2015 Oscars red carpet in cream silk Vivienne Westwood, set off by a full head of dreadlocks. Comments from TV presenter Giuliana Rancic that they made the then 19-year-old look like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed led to a public outcry, and a statement on Instagram from Zendaya denouncing a stereotype that was outrageously offensive.

For his part, Roach is proud to have played a part in sparking a conversation about whats appropriate for black hair at the Oscars. Whats appropriate for black hair in the workplace. That story got billions of impressions, and I believe it did help to bring about change.

He constructed a less political statement look for Cline Dion at the 2017 Billboard Awards, dressing her in an angel-winged gown by Stphane Rolland Haute Couture. Roach says that when it was first suggested they meet, back in 2016, I was so excited, I couldnt sleep. After a 45-minute meeting in Vegas, Dion asked him to travel to Paris with her for a month to take care of her street-style wardrobe, before hiring him to oversee her stage looks.

When she stepped out in an outsized Vetements Titanic sweatshirt (the hoodie a genius reference to the film soundtracked by her classic tear-jerker My Heart Will Go On), fashionista.com declared Dion the queen of the world. Roach hadnt been sure Dion would go for it, but remembers her reaction as being: What do you mean, what do I think about it? I love it. I want to wear it today. Roach styled the sweatshirt with blue jeans and a pair of gold Gucci heels, to the delight of the press pack.

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Zendayas Oscars look in 2015. Photograph: WireImage

With a client list that also includes Anne Hathaway, Ariana Grande and model Ruby Rose, what do the people he dresses have in common? You want to play, and you want to take risks. My clients also dont care what people say, he says, offering another Zendaya red-carpet moment as a case in point. We went to the Grammys after David Bowie had just passed, and she wore a tuxedo and a mullet in homage. Youve got to be a strong girl to do that on the red carpet. You have to have conviction to say, I like this, and I think I look cool, and fuck you to everybody who doesnt. I think all my girls have an element of fuck you in them.

This is something of a mantra for Roach: he even has the phrase tattooed on the middle finger of his right hand. As for dream jobs, the people I would have loved to work with are no longer with us. Prince, Amy Winehouse. I always felt connected to Amy, in a way.

If success for Roach is in the work itself, then landing the Americas Next Top Model gig is a marker of how far hes come from his days junking back home in Chicago in particular, filming his second series with the shows creator and executive producer Tyra Banks, one of only a handful of African American supermodels, after she returned as a host this year. When we were shooting our cast photo, Im there with Tyra, in front of the ANTM logo, and I start to cry. I was like, Were in the house that Tyra built!

Its another opportunity for him to increase the visibility of black creatives in the industry. He shows me his tattoos, the affirmation I can, I will and the number 312 (his Chicago area code) reminders that I am a lot of firsts for my family. The first to graduate high school. The first to earn a college degree. The first to move out of Chicago. If I can inspire somebody else to be a first, thats whats important.

Who dresses who: meet the other power stylists

Karla Welch
The Canadians client list includes Lorde, Amy Poehler, Amandla Stenberg, Elisabeth Moss and Katy Perry as well as, more surprisingly, Justin Bieber.

Although her personal style is low-key (she has described herself as a Celine woman, of the Phoebe Philo mould) it is the big fashion-career-shaping moments which Welch is most known for. She has been credited with catapulting Ruth Negga to best-dressed status via some custom-made Louis Vuitton.

Donald
Donald Glover in Gucci suit. Photograph: Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Ilaria Urbinati
One of Hollywoods top mens stylist, Urbinati has dressed
Armie Hammer in Gucci tuxes, Sacha Baron Cohen in Paul Smith suits, and Rami Malek in Givenchy leather jackets. Other big-name clients include Bradley Cooper, Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Tom Hiddleston.

But she is perhaps best known for her recent work with Donald Glover, dressing him in Gucci suits, from brown velvet to thick pinstripe. Urbinati is big on what she calls aggressive styling bold colours, prints (see The Rock in a Hawaiian shirt) and jewellery.

Leith Clark
This London-based, Canadian stylists name has become a byword for the romantic look think Keira Knightly in floaty Chanel couture or Erdem dresses; florals, lace and long hemlines.

Clark (a former housemate of Alexa Chung) most recently worked with Batsheva, fashions favourite new dress brand (known for remixed prairie dresses inspired by Orthodox Judaism). She is also the founder-editor of Violet, a fashion magazine that aims to represent diverse women of all ages.

Marni Senofonte
Most famous for shaping the Beyonc Lemonade album look (and that iconic pregnancy shoot), Senofonte works with musicians from Lauryn Hill to Diddy. She is branching out, recently taking on Kendall Jenner as a client (her sister Kim Kardashian is an old friend).

Senofontes aesthetic is high-octane and attention-wielding think Beyoncs Michael Jackson-inspired leather military jacket with fishnets for the Black Panther Super Bowl performance, or the unmissable yellow Cavalli dress she wore for the Hold Up video. Ellie Violet Bramley

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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