You don’t necessarily know his name, but chances are you’ve seen his work on red carpets and on every best-dressed list out there. Despite being one of the biggest names in the styling game, Law Roach says he is still inspired in the same ways he was when he was a little boy.
‘I would watch my mother and grandmother get ready for church on Sunday mornings,’ says Law. ‘They’d do their hair, apply their make-up, zip up their dresses… Whatever else was happening in their lives didn’t matter; they looked beautiful and they felt confident. I realised then that when a woman feels beautiful, she walks differently, she talks with a new-found confidence and she sees the world in a new way. That stood out to me. And when I figured out that I could do that for a living, there was no turning back.’
Law first turned his love of fashion into a business when he opened his own clothing store, Deliciously Vintage, in Harlem and Chicago. His meticulously curated selection of vintage clothes soon began attracting big names in the fashion industry (including Kanye West) and it was in one of these stores that his career would change forever. A regular customer of his was a family friend of Zendaya; the ex-Disney star needed something to wear to a film premiere, and Law’s patron introduced them. It was the beginning of Law and Zendaya’s creative journey together, a partnership that has most recently resulted in a collaborative clothing label, Daya by Zendaya.
Studying each look that Law has created, it’s obvious that the image architect has no limit to his inspiration. He dressed Zendaya in a dazzling butterfly-inspired gown by Moschino for the Australian premiere of The Greatest Showman; Mariah Carey in a body-hugging black gown by Dolce&Gabbana at the 75th Golden Globe Awards; and Celine Dion in a breathtaking haute couture Stéphane Rolland gown for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. He’s even dressed South Africa’s Bonang Matheba in Nicolas Jebran for the 15th Metro FM Awards. When I ask where he finds the constant energy for such creative thinking, he shares that it’s the combination of women and nostalgia that inspire him.
‘I’ve always drawn inspiration from the past. I used to watch hundreds of reruns of shows like Dynasty, and it was women like Dominique Deveraux and Alexis Carrington who always stood out to me. They were fabulous, powerful and in control. Women who have a natural flair for fashion have always been my main source of inspiration, such as Cher and Bianca Jagger; today I’m still influenced by these women. You can see it in my work now.’
Law goes on to tell me that the heart of his job is taking an image, elevating it and propelling it into the future. ‘When I work with larger-than-life icons like Mariah or Celine, I’ve sort of watched their careers grow and seen their image evolution. I’ve seen their looks and what they’ve come to be known for. I take all of that as my foundation and build on it. That could mean many different things. Sometimes I introduce them to a designer they’ve never worked with before, or a different fabric or colour, and other times we take big risks. Luckily I get to work with really fearless women.’
Law is clearly passionate about his work. We are on opposite sides of the world while we talk on the phone, and his day has just started but he is full of life and energy. ‘You’ve got to try and find something you’re passionate about,’ says Law. ‘My job may seem glamorous to people, but that’s because they see the end result. They don’t see the hours and hours and hours of work and research that goes into bringing each and every look to life. The time it takes to hunt down the right dress. The countless back-and-forth emails, and the many phone calls.’
Law believes that the world is hungry for things to critique. ‘Image is absolutely everything these days. It can make or break you. It can build and destroy your career. People see you before you even get a chance to talk or express your talents. That’s why social media can be so dangerous in this industry. You know that everything you do is going to go online, where every person has an opinion and an accessible platform on which to break you down.’
Law says that perhaps the most challenging part of his job is to stay true to his gut feeling and to cut out any fear of how the outside world will react. ‘I have to work hard not to let outside influences affect me,’ he says. ‘In the end, I hold my client’s image in my hands, and they are my number-one priority.’