IN CONVERSATION WITH LAW ROACH
Law Roach is a stylist and image architect, who undeniably transforms celebrities into fashion icons. His network of brands and clients includes A-list celebrities such as Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Tom Holland, Hailee Steinfeld, Venus Williams, Hunter Schafer, Lewis Hamilton, Jennifer Hudson, and many more. In 2021 he was named the most powerful stylist of the year by The Hollywood Reporter. In addition to running a multi-million dollar styling business, Law is a judge on HBO Max’s voguing competition ‘Legendary’.
Law, you embarked on your career as a vintage broker, collecting and curating vintage pieces. How did your career as a fashion stylist begin?
Well, magically Kanye West came into the store and paparazzi was following him. So TMZ did a story about it and with the type of global influence that Kanye had, a lot of stylists began to call us. And so I’m like “This stylist thing, I wanna be that, I wanna do whatever they’re doing”. And that was my first introduction to real celebrity and editorial styling.
Did you always know that you wanted a career in styling and fashion?
No, I didn’t. I always loved fashion. I always thought I had a point of view when it came to fashion, but where I’m from, there was no social media when I was growing up. So the world was a much bigger place. And there were some things that you just didn’t know were possible.
Growing up in Southside Chicago you moved to New York to open your first boutique ‘Deliciously Vintage Harlem’. Inspired by its success you brought a renewed energy and fashion also to Chicago. How would you describe this chapter of your career?
I don’t think vintage had ever gotten to the point. Again, we didn’t have any social media, so promoting yourself was more a word of mouth. It was a struggle, it was tough, but I had a passion for it, so I wanted to try it. Chicago’s my hometown and I actually kind of ran out of money in New York, so I had to move home and try it there.
New York is one of the world’s biggest fashion capitals. What makes New York’s fashion scene so unique and special?
As soon as you get off the plane and you smell that air, depending how good or bad it smells, you always get the feeling that you can anything. And I think that’s why people move, it’s a place where people move to make their dreams come true, especially in fashion.
But there’s also the energy. Manhattan is a place where you can just walk and walk and walk and you never know where you’ll end up. You never know who you’ll meet. And I think that is one of the beautiful parts about New York city. It’s just the city of possibilities for me. You can go there as a nobody and you can build yourself and grow and become whoever you want. And you can also meet so many other people that are on the same journey as you, which makes you feel really good.
You didn’t begin your career as an intern or an assistant, like many stylists do. You built your own network of brands and clients, which now includes many A-list celebrities. Who is the one celebrity that you’ve enjoyed working with the most?
I mean, Zendaya and I kind of synonymously long for each other. But if I’m speaking about other clients, I think that Celine Dion really changed my life and she changed the trajectory of my career.
Just because she was Celine Dion and I was this young boy from Chicago that was a couple years into my career and was doing well for myself. She’s such a global icon, we’ve all grown up on her music and we know who she is and our parents loved her, our grandparents loved her. For her to give me the opportunity to display my talents on such a huge stage was just life changing for me.
With your love for fashion, you continue to conquer cultural limitations, making revolutionary strides for people of color within both the fashion and entertainment industries. What is your main goal and what do you strive for with your styling?
Honestly, I strive to entertain people, I strive to start conversations. Whether you love it or you hate it, there’s a conversation to be had about it. And I think fashion is provocative and I think that it should cause people to have certain emotions about it. And I think that I’ve been blessed to have clients who have let me start the conversations and allow themselves to be a part of it.
Is there anyone that you really want to work with and style in the future, that you haven’t worked with yet?
I’m a firm believer that the universe puts you in people’s lives exactly at the moment you’re supposed to be there. So I don’t have a wish list of clients. The only person who I would’ve loved to work with, who’s no longer with us, is Prince. I would’ve loved to dress Prince. But other than that, if there’s someone out there who needs me or who I need them, we’ll find each other. And I really believe in that.
In 2020 and 2021, you were named the most powerful stylist of the year by The Hollywood Reporter and were the first African American to be featured on their cover. What does this acknowledgement mean to you personally? Especially, representing the African American community.
I think that to be recognized for my work is incredible. And I think to put me on the cover of that magazine just shows to people who look like me and who are from where I’m from, that it’s possible. I think representation is so important. Seeing ourselves on television, seeing ourselves on the covers of magazines, seeing ourselves as leading men or leading women in film is really important. So for me, that victory wasn’t just my victory, but it was for every black boy or girl who has aspirations of doing what I do.
You acted as creative director for the Tommy x Zendaya fashion line by Tommy Hilfiger, which premiered at Paris Fashion Week in 2019. Do you have any new projects like this in the works maybe already?
I have a collaboration coming out with Hervé Léger. I designed a capsule collection for them, that launches in October. So I’m really excited about that.
You’re one of the judges on HBO Max’s ‘Legendary’, an American voguing reality competition streaming television series, exploring the world of ball culture. It follows LGBT house members as they navigate through nine balls – dancing/voguing/walking events. What makes this reality series stand out?
I think what makes it stand out is because it’s never existed. The ballroom community has been around for the last 60 years. They are responsible for a lot of the language that we speak, the slang. Terms that have become solidified in pop culture have been invented by people in ballroom. And I think that they never got the proper platform or the respect or the celebration they deserve. So that’s why ‘Legendary’ was created, to give a really underground culture of people the chance to shine their light and show their talents.
What do enjoy the most being part of ‘Legendary’?
I’ve been able to create this alter ego, someone who’s not really like me, like I am in person in real life. I play a b***h on television and I think that’s everybody’s dream role in a way, so I’m super excited about it. We’re hoping that we come back for season four and I think the most beautiful part about it is that we see people, who have been on the show, going on tour with Madonna and Lil Nas X. It’s just so many things that have come from that show, that have really benefited the contestants. That makes me really proud.
Prior to ‘Legendary’, you’ve also been a judge on ‘America’s Next Top Model’. What do you like the most about being a judge on reality TV programmes?
I love to be around talented people and because my primary job being a stylist is so behind the scenes, it just gives me a chance to really show some parts of my personality and for people to really hear me speak and talk about things that I’m passionate about. And a lot of times the critiques that I give these people is tough love. It’s just that I really wanna see everybody win. I wanna see everybody do the best that they can do. So my delivery is more a different type of reinforcement, but I think we all learn and set criticism in different ways. And if you take what I say and walk away from it and digest it and put it into your real life, it becomes something that’s not just about what happened on the stage, but what’s happening in your real life.
Have you ever thought about creating your own reality series as well?
There has been some talks about that and again, I think when the universe is ready for me to have it, it’ll come. I’m very open to it because I think my life and my journey has been such an incredible thing, that I wanna share it with people. And I wanna be able to motivate people and inspire people. And just let people know that anything’s possible, cause the life I’m living now is not the life that I was born with or the life that I ever thought I would achieve.
Besides the new capsule collection, are there any other exciting projects that we don’t know about yet and you can share with us about?
I think every day, every project is exciting. Going to fashion week and taking a couple of my clients to shows is exciting to me, it’s really why I got into this business and I’m not jaded about it at all. I’m still excited to be invited and to be around like minded people, where everyone there loves fashion in their own way. And I love that.
I’m still excited every day like a child. I’m so flattered when people reach out to me and say that they wanna work with me. Every day feels new, every day feels different. And I’m just incredibly grateful and blessed to have been able to take my career to where it is in these short years.
What makes Couture fashion so special in your eyes?
I grew up looking at John Galliano Couture shows and it was such a fantasy. Looking at those pictures and those images was just a way for me to escape my real life.
Couture is really pretty. The shows are smaller and it’s a little bit more intimate. And you get to see the top of the top when it comes to craftsmanship. At that level, it just becomes more about the art form than the actual clothes. I think that the hands of these women are just as talented as Picasso or any other great artists.
interview by JANA LETONJA
talent LAW ROACH
photography GREG SWALES
fashion editor RAZ MARTINEZ
producer ALEXEY GALETSKIY
makeup ERNESTO CASILLAS using LANCOME
hair LARRY SIMS
digital tech AMANDA YANEZ
lighting crew YOLANDA LEANEY & SANSY RIVAS
styling assistant DAMARIS VALVERDE
set designer LUCY HOLT
set design assistant ALE GARCIA
personal assistant SASHA MILOSTNOVA
casting director TIMOTEJ LETONJA