When you think of Hollywood glamour, your mind no doubt conjures up fantasies of couture-filled red carpets and high-fashion editorials, featuring a dizzying array of looks fresh off the runway. Multiply that times ten and you’ll get your first real glimpse into a day-in-the-life of fashion’s leading man: TV personality, celebrity image architect and HelloBeautiful’s latest cover star, Law Roach.
When I catch up with Law, he’s doing exactly what one might expect him to be — shopping. He answers my call in a soft, polite voice, his tone belying the multimillion-dollar powerhouse he’s built himself to be. But almost immediately, we’re down to business. Throughout our conversation, he’s able to seamlessly bob and weave between telling both the store clerk and me exactly what needs to be said, all without missing a beat. It’s hardly surprising coming from the man who has styled a whopping 16 magazine covers in the first seven months of 2021 alone. On top of that, he’s created some of the year’s — and arguably the decade’s — most undeniable fashion moments.
One could accuse me of gushing, sure. But it’s hard not to be caught up in the dazzling universe of glamour, grit and hustle in which Law operates.
A Fashion Origin Story
“Watching my grandma get ready for church … I feel like that’s the first fashion event, the first fashion show that I was privy to go to,” Roach says. “I always remembered that — and that was my first introduction to fashion.”
While he didn’t quite know what his career trajectory would look like, what was clear to the style maven was that he would end up in fashion, one way or another. It began with Law carefully curating a vintage collection through thrifting, which he eventually parlayed into one of Chicago’s hottest boutiques, the now-closed Deliciously Vintage. Through the store, he got his first taste of styling celebrities, eventually partnering with one of today’s biggest stars, Zendaya, whom he met when she was just 14 years old. The two have since been one of the business’ most longstanding, successful fashion partnerships.
As with Zendaya, Law has since helped turn his current roster of clients into a veritable “who’s who” list in the best of celebrity fashion circles.
Who could forget his partnership with Celine Dion for her infamous style takeover back in 2016? Following a jaw-dropping Paris street style tour, complete with Balenciaga leather accouterments, bright and bold Gucci shift dresses, Vetements hoodies with heels and Giambatista Valli couture gowns, Dion became, quite literally, an overnight fashion sensation.
Tiffany Haddish had a similar trajectory when Law transformed her from Hollywood’s funny girl next door to the epitome of red carpet chic, complete with a blonde pixie cut and sexy Versace gowns. Aldis Hodge, Law’s most recent client, has also become one of fashion’s most notable men, following a stunning turn in a custom Dolce & Gabbana white tuxedo that put his muscular frame on clear display. Other successful partnerships have resulted in Ariana Grande’s campy pop star style, Mary J. Blige’s sexy swaggy vibes and Anya Taylor Joy’s old Hollywood glam revival.
With a fashion panache unlike anyone’s in recent Hollywood history, Law’s love and appreciation of style are clear. But his work goes beyond mere admiration to a case study in the history of fashion iconography — specifically Black icons.
Law’s clients consistently pay homage to the pioneers of Black fashion. In 2020, he and Zendaya collaborated with the team at ESSENCE magazine (where I was lead editor at the time) to honor Donyale Luna, one of the first Black supermodels. He’s also paid tribute to Eunice Johnson, the creator of Ebony Fashion Fair, by dressing Zendaya in the same powder-blue YSL look the late icon once wore, and most recently, to Beyonce, putting Zendaya in the long version of the “Crazy In Love” Versace mini dress.
“I don’t think people understand just how much goes into it,” he says of his process. “And then when you hit a certain level, it’s like all the small things really matter.” That attention to detail keeps the lewks he prepares for his clients as diverse as the clients themselves. Unlike some stylists, whose celebrity red carpet moments can look like a carbon copy of each other, Law is adept at making sure his clients look different.
“Everything is thought out meticulously,” he adds. “I work really hard to find out who the person is that I’m dressing and make sure it feels like an elevated version of them.”
It’s a formula that’s made him one of the most sought-after talents in the business. In the spring of 2021, The Hollywood Reporter named him the most powerful stylist in the industry.
But he’s quick to point out that the journey has not been for the faint of heart, especially in a place as notoriously exclusionary as Hollywood. “We are still struggling as Black creatives,” he says. “We’re still struggling to be looked at and to be revered as much as our White counterparts.” And while he acknowledges that he is blessed to have been in the rooms and spaces he’s in, he’s also quick to call out the system’s sinister practices.
He told THR: “… there’s a system in Hollywood where new talent and those girls are funneled through the same group of people, … I always call them the same five white women.” Taking it a step further, he added, “To be really honest with you, the way people make the [THR Stylist] List is based on awards season. Not a lot of Black stylists get the opportunity to get on the list because they don’t get the opportunity to work with the talent that’s going to the Oscars, the Globes.”
It was a bold choice considering he was calling out the very publication that was honoring him. But Law has never been one to shy away from uncomfortable conversations about racism in the industry.
He tells me: “Somebody has to be in the uncomfortable room and be the only Black creative in the room so that it’s easier the next go-round and more people get the opportunity. Because I think we have to always ask the question, ‘Is it talent or is it opportunity?’ And I think for us, we are the most talented when it comes to fashion and style and a lot of things, we just don’t automatically get the same opportunities that other people get.”
The Power Of Voice
Still, despite whatever challenges he has faced, Law has solidified his spot among a crop of undeniably powerful Black stylists making a huge impact on the business today. Among them are talent like Wayman and Micah, Ade Samuel, Jason Rembert, Jason Bolden and Kollin Carter, the genius behind Cardi B’s style transformation, who was once Law’s assistant.
“We have to credit social media because it lets us come from behind the curtain,” he says. “I think for a long time, stylists, in general, have been really instrumental in propelling and creating these stars. But I think social media has given us our own platform where we can step [from] behind the curtain and say, ‘Hey, this is me. This is what I do. This is what I’ve done.’ And I think people are really receptive to it.”
It’s never lost on Law just how important it is to use his platform for other creatives, something he has done incredibly well. He’s played a role in launching the careers of top talent like photographers ABDM Studios, and Kollin Carter. Last year, he launched the fLAWless Foundation to funnel capital into Black-owned businesses affected by social unrest.
It’s a passion that extends beyond just helping to put talent on the map, to demanding the credit he is due. Law has famously coined the phrase “image architect” to describe his work, noting that the moniker “stylist,” simply didn’t encompass all that he was doing.
“When I took a deep dive into what it is that I was doing really early in my career, I just felt like it was so similar to what an architect does, even down to building out a blueprint of what I thought whoever the client was should and can be,” he said. “Architects do that all the time, but they do it for a structure or a building or whatever. And I’m just doing it for people and their image.”
In recent years, he’s been applying that shift into a new phase in his own image. With all of his accolades and his nearly 800K followers on Instagram, Law’s genius has propelled him into a celebrity in his own right. Television roles have become a staple on his resume, beginning with Vh1’s America’s Top Model reboot, to his turn as a judge on HBO Max’s Legendary.
And like his fashion clients, who often contact him directly to hire him, his TV gigs have come by his reputation.
“I just really think that the universe puts things in your life exactly at the moment you’re supposed to receive it. My first kind of dive into [TV] was America’s Next Top Model. That came out of Tyra hearing about me. And then Legendary came about because I dress Jameela Jamil. She was an executive producer on the show and she put me up. So it’s just kind of almost the right place at the right time, which is the thing that always seems to work.”
It’s been a welcome, albeit unexpected, turn in his career. “I love being on television. I love people getting to hear me speak and know what my opinion is. It’s just fun.”
Still, Law is careful not to let the attention go too much to his head.
“I may be this ‘celebrity stylist,’ whatever. But at the core of it, I’m paid to do a job.” he says. “And that’s what keeps me humble.”
“I come into every situation, every relationship, every partnership, collaboration, knowing that I am hired, I am support,” he adds. “I am the same as makeup and hair and the nanny and the chef. You know what I mean? So at the end of the day, that is my boss, and I respect them as such. I am only there to help them be the best them at that moment. There’s nothing else that’s important.”
As our chat winds down, I ask Law how he finds balance in the chaos, to which he bluntly responds that he simply doesn’t.
“I really don’t have that,” he says. “I just don’t. Everyone’s like, ‘Balance. You have to take care of yourself and you have to put yourself first, and all that.’ I’m just like, ‘No, I don’t.’”
Instead, he says it’s as simple as work making him happy. “Having nine, 10 clients at a time, the biggest actors and actresses and musicians and personalities in the world, I love that. I also love being successful. I love when people say that what I’ve done is aspirational and inspirational. That’s what feeds me. And that’s what gives me my balance.”
As for what’s next for fashion’s busiest talent? His goals include making high-fashion accessible for the everyday woman. And while he’s served as creative director for lines like Daya By Zendaya or Zendaya X Tommy Hilfiger, it’s high time he got a line of his own.
“I really want that collaboration with Target or Walmart,” he says. “Something where I can lend myself to the masses. I want to touch the people. You know what I mean? I want to create something that the people can go and get to have a little piece of me and have a little piece of my story.”
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