Those familiar with Law Roach’s epic styling work with Zendaya — a liquid gold trenchcoat with platform sandals, a fuchsia evening gown with a plunging neckline and yards upon yards of featherweight silk charmeuse — won’t be surprised to know that the Seventies loom large among recent fashion decades. The self-described image architect — whose famous clients include Céline Dion, Demi Lovato and Mary J. Blige — actually started his career out as the owner of a vintage clothing store. It’s where he met Zendaya when the star was a mere 13.
And while Roach was only just a toddler when stilettos teetered on tables at Studio 54, he is a self-studied expert of fashion from the era. Here, WWD talks with Roach about all things Seventies-influenced — and there will be Ross. Lots of Diana Ross.
WWD: You have encyclopedic knowledge of so many decades throughout fashion history. What is it about the Seventies that makes you so obsessed?
Law Roach: There was this whole sense of glamour that came from the Seventies, especially the late Seventies. My aesthetic has always been kind of this thing of glamour and sophistication. When I was growing up, looking at Diana Ross and Cher…I was a little boy, but [I was inspired].
WWD: Is there a singular image or pop culture moment that encapsulates that period for you?
L.R.: I remember my mother making me watch “The Wiz” and there was something about the costumes, it stuck with me. And my mom said “That’s Diana Ross.” And then I just wanted to see and know everything about Diana Ross, like “Mahogany” and “Lady Sings the Blues.” She was just this woman who was so glamorous, I just remember this feeling I had every time I saw her. As I got older, I became obsessed with “Charlie’s Angels,” and I get a lot of inspiration from there [today]. I remember in high school I would be late and miss classes because I’d be watching “Charlie’s Angels.” That shaped and molded my aesthetic as a stylist.
WWD: What designers of the period really do it for you?
L.R.: Designers like Halston and these clothes were free and not binding. I have this fantasy of what women are and what they should be and I think they glide around all day and their feet never touch the ground, and everything is blowing in the wind — and that decade lends itself to all that.
WWD: How do you incorporate trends or styles from the Seventies decade into your looks for your clients today?
L.R.: For the Billboard Awards in 2015, Zendaya wore Donna Karan and the look was very literal to the Seventies. You can see the Cher influence, the Bianca Jagger reference even if you don’t know anything about fashion. With Demi Lovato’s recent looks we were very literal, you see the [Seventies] references really strong. The girls that work with me have to be a bit daring because I like to push it. I like to be strong, I like to be fun and I like to be literal.
WWD: Are your clients interested in fashion history?
L.R.: For the most part, Zendaya, because we’ve been together so long. We share so many references, my inspirations and references become her inspiration and references and vice versa. And with Céline Dion, Céline is just a walking reference. Céline’s style is very influenced by Diana as well and Cher as well. She has books and looks of inspiration and tear sheets from over the years. So our conversations are always really fun.
WWD: You said you were just a toddler in the late Seventies, but what’s one thing you wish you would have done back then?
L.R.: Go to Studio 54.
WWD: What would you have worn to Studio 54?
L.R.: Some type of high-waisted, super-tight, skinny bell-bottom jeans and a shirt buttoned open to my belly button with a whole bunch of gold chains. Oh, and aviator glasses and definitely some platform shoes.
WWD: That’s pretty specific.
L.R.: Oh, absolutely.