Zendaya’s career in entertainment has been a raved success, especially for a child star. As of late, the Euphoria actress’ fashion game has matched her acting prowess—stunning paparazzi, fans and fashionistas all over the world with incredible looks on the red carpet.
Zendaya has been known to work closely with celebrity stylist Law Roach when it comes to picking out each look. Thus, every one of them is injected with some of the Oscar winner’s tastes.
But the question is: Has Zendaya always been turning out iconic looks?
The answer is no. As a kid of the ’90s and walking the carpets since she was 14, Zendaya was barely a teenager before these opportunities came her way. There are bound to be a few outfits she wished never even existed.
Let’s take a deep dive into Zendaya’s fashion history over the last decade to witness her style evolution, for what’s better than learning from today’s best?
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Little Zendaya was big on the babydoll dresses and ankle-length shoes—radiating youthful energy as much as she did playing her breakout role on Disney’s Shake It Up.
By 2012, the show had gained a young cult following and Zendaya was also climbing the ranks at Disney. Although still youthful, dressing in knee-length dresses, this was a turning point as she started experimenting with layering and contrasting materials like leather, tulle and lace.
Turning out a tropical co-ord look at the 2013 Radio Disney Music Awards, the starlet poked fun at her younger self on Instagram and this is why we love her—she’s is so relatable and humble.
Later that year, after the cancellation of her show, Zendaya walked the American Music Awards carpet looking ladylike in an asymmetrical, off-shoulder Donna Karen look. This was her leap into elevated silhouettes that were more mature than anything she wore years prior, which she brought into 2014.
Perhaps, this was Zendaya’s way of shedding off her “child star” title and signalling to big leagues that she was ready for bigger roles.
In 2014, Zendaya’s love for hip-hop, R&B and 90s music also became apparent—basketball caps, bandeau tops, maxi skirts and even a subtle nod to legend Diana Ross with a gold coat ensemble.
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Zendaya’s tune changed in 2015 with emphasis on bolder designs and edginess to accompany the mature silhouettes and to make them her own.
One of her fashion slam dunks occurred at the Oscars where she looked statuesque in an ivory, off-shoulder gown by Vivienne Westwood, Chopard pearl earrings and dreadlocks. The entire look screamed elegance and strength.
This year also marked Zendaya’s first MET Gala where she wore a custom design by Fausto Puglisi. The mini dress encapsulated both Zendaya’s youthfulness and the theme—China: Through The Looking Glass —with sun motifs on the bright red skirt, the train and the headpiece.
However, she made a complete 180-turn in 2016. Zendaya went through a minimalistic phase, which was evident during the Grammys dressed in a simple black suit that paid homage to the late David Bowie. Zendaya loves a good suit, and it becomes a staple for many talk show appearances in years to come.
She also flew under the radar at that year’s MET Gala in a shimmery, slinky gold gown by Michael Kors. In combination with the awkward bob and dark smokey eye makeup, Zendaya was almost unrecognisable.
Not to mention, the grey Kenzo number that she wore on stage at Comic-Con where Marvel announced her role as the newest MJ in the Spider-Man franchise. This was her first big break on the silver screen and yet, she chose a rather understated dress.
We can’t help but wonder: Was this a power move?
With two blockbusters—Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman—releasing in 2017, the rising A-lister’s style shifted towards old Hollywood glamour. We’re talking about organza gowns dripping in beadwork, dresses with dramatic draping and various flamboyant off-shoulder garbs.
According to the Internet, most celebrities failed to impress with their custom looks during 2017’s MET Gala, other than a few exceptions and Zendaya being one of them.
With a frizzy auburn hairdo, she appeared on the steps of the museum in a billowing gown covered in parrot and floral prints by Dolce & Gabbana. Zendaya was the belle of the ball due to the brilliant sunset colour palette amid the ocean of black and white couture.
By this point, Zendaya became a household name across the world and fans were excited to see what the star would wear next. Some of her standouts this year revolved around the under appreciated balloon dress.
A play on textures was also evident throughout the looks with detailed tailoring and soft design elements such ruching, draping and tiers of ruffles.
Even her Joan of Arc look, constructed by Versace for the 2018 MET Gala, used some of these elements to soften the armour-like chainmail material.
Zendaya’s style evolved yet again. This time, the looks focused on the particular event—the theme of the film or TV show she was in, the cause she was supporting or the grandeur. Comparing her looks for the Emmys and the People’s Choice Awards, the former exuded opulence while the latter was more casual.
Many of her looks were showboaty in the best ways. Keeping to the MET Gala’s theme of camp, Zendaya and her stylist Law Roach made a spectacular entrance that lit up the carpet, literally.
Other noteworthy looks include the dreamy number at the Euphoria premiere and the red and black sequin gown at the Spider-Man: Far From Home premiere. These were little easter eggs that paid tribute to the shows and we loved it.
Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 was a fashion-deprived year. However, right before the world shut down, Zendaya pushed the fashion envelope at the Critic’s Choice Awards with her pink warrior ensemble by Tom Ford. The metallic sculpted bra shook social media and it raked up a ton of shares—truly deserving a spot on all the “best dressed” articles online.
Now in the present, Zendaya’s style has reached its highest peak—there is a certain polished quality that few can achieve at her age. Mid-drift couture was huge in 2021, she rocked the aesthetic at the Oscars, the CFDA Fashion Awards and the Dune premiere in Paris.
Zendaya also continued dressing based on the films she starred in. Channelling high fashion and post-apocalyptic sensibilities, Zendaya floored fans with countless Dune premiere looks.
Similarly, her Spider-Man: No Way Home premiere outfits had glamour written all over them, especially with the use of lace and bejewelled spider web designs throughout the garbs.
Vintage was also on her mind in 2021 and 2022 – the loan process for these pieces are extremely difficult and few have the pleasure of even touching them.
Last but not least, Zendaya loves a good suit as we’ve mentioned earlier, but her recent Pink PP Valentino power suit with 3D flower appliqués was everything and more. Not only was it elegant, but it was also an example of how the most feminine of colours could exude strength.
This style recap and analysis showcases Zendaya’s growth throughout the years and her astonishing eye for fashion. Only time can tell what’s to come with this style chameleon, but we expect nothing less as her career grows even further.