9 Distinct Times Zendaya Paid Tribute to Style Icons and Pop Culture on the Red Carpet
Zendaya's red carpet looks are nothing if not well-researched. The star and her longtime stylist, image architect Law Roach, have crafted countless phenomenal style moments, but in recent years, we've seen the two pay tribute to icons and pop culture fixtures with more frequency. Take, for example, her timely homage to David Bowie at the 2016 Grammys or her Cher moment at the Oscars earlier this year. At the recent BET Awards, Zendaya wore a vintage dress — culled from Law's extensive archives — closely resembling the number Beyoncé wore to perform at the same award show in 2003.
It's become a fun game for those at home, too: mining all the potential references and images that might have inspired her latest look. And, in turn, Zendaya and Law are having just as much fun pulling those references. When asked about which of his clients is the most interested in fashion history, Law told WWD in 2017, "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."
To see fashion history repeat itself and be newly made, browse through the many distinct times Zendaya and Law have made their red carpet references plainly clear.
Zendaya's Homage to Beyoncé at the 2021 BET Awards
The internet fell madly for Zendaya in this vintage Versace dress at the 2021 BET Awards. A gem that had been lurking in Law's archives, the colorblocked red carpet look was an homage to Beyoncé, who wore a shorter version to perform "Crazy in Love" at the same award show in 2003. In fact, that performance marked one of Beyoncé's first award-show appearances as a solo artist.
Zendaya Taking a Cue From Cher at the 2021 Oscars
Zendaya's vibrant look at the 2021 Academy Awards was classic Cher. The star's neon-yellow Valentino gown, which glowed in the dark, was reminiscent of a cutout jumpsuit Cher once wore on her eponymous variety show with Sonny Bono. What's more, Cher also wore yellow — an embellished Bob Mackie two-piece — for her second-ever Oscars appearance, which can be seen ahead, in 1973.
Zendaya's Tribute to David Bowie at the 2016 Grammys
Zendaya's appearance at the 2016 Grammy Awards was one big tribute to David Bowie, who had died just a month before of liver cancer. Though her headline-making mullet borrowed from Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era, Zendaya told MTV News she was primarily inspired by his Thin White Duke stage persona of the mid-1970s. Even her double-breasted Dsquared2 suit closely resembled the tuxedo, shown ahead, Bowie wore to attend the Grammys in 1975!
Zendaya Honoring Josephine Baker in 2017
Zendaya has taken inspiration from Josephine Baker on a number of occasions, but none more significant than for her timeless look at the 2017 Chrysalis Butterfly Ball, which fell on Josephine's birthday that year. The iconic Jazz Age entertainer and activist often wore finger waves and several strands of pearls, both of which informed Zendaya's hairstyle and outfit — an off-the-shoulder Mario Dice dress — at the charity event.
Zendaya Dressed Like Aaliyah in 2013
Zendaya's been referencing for years. While attending a Keep a Child Alive event just before Halloween in 2013, she wore a logo-heavy Tommy Hilfiger outfit nearly identical to the one worn by Aaliyah in her famous '90s campaign with the brand. Years later, Zendaya would go on to land her own collaboration with the brand, designing two capsule collections, which both came with extravagant runway shows.
Zendaya Wearing Eunice Walker Johnson's Own Haute Couture in 2021
Law again dipped into his personal archives to deliver this striking YSL look from the brand's 1982 Haute Couture collection. The two-piece ensemble, which Zendaya wore to Essence's Black Women in Hollywood Awards in 2021, was once owned by Eunice Walker Johnson, the trailblazing businesswoman who famously founded the Ebony Fashion Fair in 1958. In fact, Eunice wore the exact outfit on the cover of Ebony's 25th anniversary issue.
Zendaya's Nod to Tom Holland's Spider-Man in 2019
Zendaya wore a sequined Armani Privé dress to the Spider-Man: Far From Home premiere in 2019. And yes, the red-and-black motif was meant to resemble the superhero's newly revamped suit in the sequel, shown ahead. "This was our homage to the Far From Home suit that he wears," Zendaya told Entertainment Tonight on the red carpet. "This is my own version."
Zendaya's Poison Ivy-Inspired Look at the 2019 Emmys
Zendaya has sought style inspiration from superheroes and villains. To attend the 2019 Emmy Awards, she wore an emerald Vera Wang corset dress with visible boning. Though this red carpet look understandably conjured up comparisons to The Little Mermaid's Ariel, Law was actually inspired by Uma Thurman's portrayal of Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, and he shared several stills from the 1997 film to Instagram Stories the day of the award show.
Zendaya Channeling Cinderella . . . Obviously
Zendaya went for a more overt homage when she dressed like Cinderella to attend the 2019 Met Gala. The baby-blue Tommy Hilfiger gown lit up as soon as she hit the camp-themed red carpet, and a velvet headband, choker necklace, and carriage-shaped purse helped complete the princess look. Law, meanwhile, attended the event as the Fairy Godmother in a fitting move.