Many people have “shut down” the Met Gala red carpet over the years, so to speak, but few have brought it to a complete standstill. When Zendaya and her stylist Law Roach made their way up the steps this evening, they managed to make jaws drop, as Zendaya’s Tommy Hilfiger dress transformed from crystal gray into a bold blue Cinderella gown after a wave of fairy godfather Roach’s wand. A seamless transformation and fashion meets technology moment unlike anything previously seen at the event, it managed to exceed expectations—even those of the man behind it all. “Next year we’re going to have to [either] chill out or come down from a helicopter like Diana Ross at the Superbowl,” shared Roach. “When this goes off like it’s supposed to what else can you do!
The concept for the look came from Zendaya’s own career evolution. With her gritty teen drama Euphoria set to debut in June, fans who grew up with her on the Disney Channel are about to see a whole new side of the star’s persona and Roach wanted to pay homage to her roots. “[It’s] the total opposite of every character I think she’s ever played and a huge stretch from K.C. Undercover,” says Roach of Zendaya’s next role. “It’s almost like this is the last hoorah and the last time people will identify her as a Disney princess—which isn’t a bad thing.”
He was inspired by Hussein Chalayan’s epic Spring 2007 collection, which featured tech-infused futurism and a robotic dress that peeled back its layers to reveal a nude Leah de Wavrin, as well as the viral strut of RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki, who memorably swept one of the show’s runway challenges with a sequined jumpsuit that changed into a tartan dress with a flick of the wrist. Roach knew Zendaya’s look would require movement and a direct reference to the fairytale. “It has to be literal enough so that people get it. When you see Cinderella, you know right away it’s her; the baby blue dress and the hair and the French twist it all works together,” he says. “We hunted down the people who created the technology used in the Chalayan show and who did all the mechanics to create those garments, then brought them to Tommy to collaborate with us on this.”
As the image architect behind Zendaya’s greatest style hits, Celine Dion’s fashion renaissance, and Anne Hathaway’s outré reinvention, Roach has created his share of Met Gala looks but 2019 marks his first time as an attendee. Though he delivered the bibbidi-bobbidi-boo that set Zendaya’s outfit moving and arrived in a dazzling periwinkle suit of his own, complete with chariot clutch that nodded to the fairytale, his personal gala bucket list is surprisingly down to earth. “I’m just actually looking forward to seeing the exhibit,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been dressing people for the past five years but haven’t gotten to see one!”