When I look back at the 2015 Academy Awards and think about Zendaya, I always cringe. Not because she didn’t look like a goddess—she absolutely shut down that red carpet.
The then 18-year-old, looked stunning in her white off-the-shoulder Vivienne Westwood gown and her beautiful faux dreadlocks, showcasing her Blackness on a very white stage, making us very proud. But I cringe because of how horribly she was treated by E! “Fashion Police” correspondents Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne, who joked on-air that Zendaya probably reeked of Patchouli oil and her dreads probably smelled like “weed.”
Sadly, more details are coming out about the night—this time about her stylist’s obstacles in getting her that dress. According to Jonathan Valencia, a former employee of Vivienne Westwood, took to Instagram to share that he almost got fired for getting Zendaya’s stylist, Law Roach, that iconic white gown, because a manager at Westwood’s store allegedly didn’t like dressing Black celebrities.
“My boss (ironically a POC herself) approached me one day and told me to stop dressing & pitching pieces to Black celebrities because that wasn’t the press that we wanted in Los Angeles,” the current owner of Pechuga Vintage.
Now it’s unclear if the manager was acting out on a direct order from Westwood herself, but Valencia continued on that the manager, who was later fired, had a problematic past.
“This was the same woman who had also said some homophobic and classist remarks before so I wasn’t the least bit surprised that she was also a racist. When Law requested this Westwood dress for Zendaya as a last minute option I remember having to sneak it out without anyone knowing. It could’ve gotten me fired after all.”
He had to SNEAK OUT the dress for Zendaya to wear that Vogue raved at the time was “one part Lisa Bonet, one part Venus de Milo, and all very grown-up (which is to say, all very un-Disney). We’ll be keeping our eye on you, Zendaya.”
Granted that was five years ago, but Valencia is clear: nothing has really changed since then.
“Years later and it’s sad to see that very little has changed in the fashion industry. BIPOC’s continue to be tokenized, underpaid, and underrepresented in fashion because…? Why? BIPOC’s can’t buy fashion or make it look good enough to sell to others? What’s the logic behind that? A rhetorical question that we all know the answer to. So it’s time to continue the dialogue and give back.”
In addition to coming forward with his story, Valencia found the clutch that Zendaya wore in 2015 and is selling it with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting The Okra Project, an organization that provides resources and meals to Black Trans people worldwide.
Meanwhile, Westwood has yet to respond to Valencia’s allegations.
Hopefully, her knee-jerk reaction won’t be to show everyone how many Black friends she has, or how many celebs of color she has personally dressed over the years. This right here is about systematic issues within her business, issues that I hope she is working to remedy, ASAP.
BEAUTIES: What do you think of this?