Civil Unrest and the Quarantine induced by the Global Pandemic gave those in the fashion industry ample time to take a hard look at the State of Diversity in the Fashion World. The result? Traditional Media had not made space for diverse voices, the 15% pledge launched, and Blacks in Fashion created a support group.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, frequently criticized in years past for the lack of diversity on their judging board, responded this year by beating the drum for inclusivity. Not to say they have not been consistent in their praise. 25-year-old actress and influencer Zendaya nabbed the Fashion Icon Award, an honor previously bestowed upon Beyonce, Rihanna, and Pharrell.
Brooklyn based designer Christopher John Rogers also won Womenswear designer of the Year. In his acceptance speech, he talked about coming to New York in 2016 with a dream, and while waiting tables, he began creating with scraps. 5 years later his rainbow infused, joyful designs have been worn by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Viola Davis.
Another unofficial winner that night was Law Roach, who has been fashion icon Zendaya's stylist, or as he calls it Image Architect, for over a decade. Their relationship is symbiotic: she a blank, lithe canvas, and he, the creative mind who creates beautiful tableaus that land her on best dressed lists.
Both he and Zendaya wore Vera Wang: Law in a mixed plaid look plucked from Wang's Fall 2019 collection, and Zendaya in a scintillating red bandeau top and peplum column skirt he called, "sexy in a modern way." He added, "I purposely went with something that could be easily recreated. I want people to recreate it for Halloween, or for their prom dresses." Further underscoring their partnership: the duo sported matching braided hairstyles.
While strides in diversity have been made, Roach offered that true change has been slight. He tells the State of Fashion, "[Are] there more of us in the room now? Yes. But are there as many of us in the room that should be in the room? No. Absolutely not. We’d like to think that after everything that has happened last year, the world changed and this country has changed, but it hasn’t changed enough. The change has been minimal. I’m still the only black person in [many] rooms. I still have to make myself be known so that I’m respected and handled in a certain way. I do what I do because I really think that my presence and me taking up space the way I do is making it easier for people coming behind me.”
And for those looking to enter the ultra chic yet elusively exclusive world of style, Roach says, "I came into this industry not knowing [anything], I just had a lot of confidence. Believe in yourself and be confident in that. Stand strong in your value or what you think you value can be. Be nice, be honest, and work really hard. Don't look for instant gratification. Just work your a$$ off and learn everything you can."
Law's upcoming projects are many, including styling Celine Dion for her residency in Vegas and moving towards creative direction at a large fashion house. He says, "I want to be able to touch as many people as possible."
Read more of Roach's thoughts on his Bulletin Column, Lux and the City.
*Watch Zendaya's Acceptance Speech Below: