Zendaya can do no wrong—especially when it comes to fashion. The Euphoria star has been acing every black-tie event she attends with an iconic look to remember. From her most recent Bob Mackie 1998 archival look at the TIME 100 Gala to the sharp black Sportmax suit layered on a plum shirt for this year’s Vanity Fair Oscars after-party—in 2022 alone, Spider Man’s MJ has given sartorial versatility a whole new meaning.
Speaking of Spider-Man, who can forget the epic integration of the movie in all of her promotional looks? The surface ornamentation on the oversized Alexander McQueen blazer was a nod to her beloved superhero’s spiderwebs. The Roberto Cavalli black gown with golden, skeleton-spine detail on the back for the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris paid homage to the first and the most popular villain from the franchise: Dr Octopus.
Recently, Zendaya has also cemented her position as Pier Paolo Piccioli’s perpetual muse for Valentino—serving some serious PP Pink looks in campaigns and on the red carpet. But the Dune actor wasn’t always at the centre-front of fashion, particularly not during her Disney days. Back then, just like the rest of the mere-mortals, Zendaya showed up for events in cut-out shorts, clashing prints and lumberjack shirts (yes, the photos exist on the internet). From an awkward teen to the black swan of Hollywood—Zendaya’s transformation is not for the faint-hearted, scroll below and take a look.
1. Teen Vogue Hollywood Party (2011)
For one of her earliest public appearances, Zendaya (still in her teens) stepped out in a frock-style blue dress and black stockings paired with black boots. Yet to find her groove with fashion, the Shake It Up teen star still managed to clean up well for the premiere.
2. NAACP (2012)
All at 15, Zendaya received her first nomination as an actor. To grace the occasion, she walked the red carpet in a full-length nude gown with silver embellishments on the sleeves and a bow in the front. For other girls, this may have been the perfect prom look, but for Zendaya it marked her transition from a child artist to a real actor.
3. American Music Awards (2013)
Coming into her own (one look at a time) Zendaya made her first mark in fashion with this all-white Donna Karen look. Ditching the figure-hugging dresses and floor-sweeping gowns that her contemporaries were wearing at the moment, the Malcolm & Marie actor wore an anti-fit set and got the heads turning.
4. American Music Awards (2014)
Embracing her hair and the heritage—Zendaya had now bid the awkward phase adieu and was now channelling her inner goddess and the confidence that came with it. For the 2014 AMA’s, she rocked a head full of curly mane with a gold metallic relaxed set by Georgine styled with a powder blue halter bralette.
5. Oscar (2015)
Making her Oscar debut in Vivienne Westwood, just like she should—Zendaya opted for a pristine white off-shoulder number for her grand entry into the big leagues. At this point, the actor was not just experimenting with her style, but also with her hair and makeup looks. Days after flaunting her pixie cut, the former Disney diva arrived at the Oscars in dreadlocks—talk about a girl who can do both and make it look effortless.
6. MET Gala (2015)
Baby’s first MET! Uour appointment in fashion’s A-list is incomplete without an appearance at the Metropolitan Museum’s annual costume Gala. The year was 2015 and the theme was China: Through The Looking Glass, Zendaya climbed the steps in an asymmetrical Fausto Puglisi, sun-studded, red and black gown.
7. The Greatest Showman Premiere (2017)
Embodying the metamorphosis in real life, Zendaya looked like an actual butterfly for The Greatest Showman premiere in Moschino’s spring 2018 collection designed by Jeremy Scott.
8. MET Gala (2019)
Zendaya as a lit-up Cinderella for 2019’s MET Gala was a whole moment—she brought theatrics, drama and all that jazz! and of course, stylist Law Roach as her fairy Godfather. The Tommy Hilfiger fairytale dress hit all the nails with the theme, which was Camp: Notes on Fashion.
9. Emmy Awards (2019)
By far, one of her most understated yet impactful look was this emerald green Vera Wang gown. Old-school, side-swept waves with minimal or no jewellery—this satin-corset, form-flattering number deserved all the focus and Zendaya merely obliged.
10. Critics’ Choice Awards (2020)
Fresh off the runway, Zendaya wore this warrior-princess-meets-barbie hot pink, breastplate ensemble by Tom Ford for the Critics’ Choice Awards that year. The cool-girl look was another addition to her long list of unconventional fashion triumphs.
11. Oscar (2021)
Talking about her transformation is incomplete without mentioning this lemon yellow custom Valentino cutout dress with Bulgari jewellery and Jimmy Choo heels. This time, it was her stunning jewellery in the limelight and the dress perfectly complemented the look.
12. Venice Film Festival (2021)
Going toe-to-toe with another Gen-Z style icon and her Dune co-star, Zendaya served look after look during the movie promotions with Timothée Chalamet, but this one was an absolute stand-out. The skin-coloured wet Balmain dress styled with a contrasting emerald neckpiece was a definite winner amongst the rest.
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