Zendaya is so young, yet it seems like she has been around for decades. From the Greatest Showman and the Spiderman saga, to Euphoria, Dune and every memorable press tour and red carpet that has come along the way, her artistic journey has been full of meaningful memories that are creating fashion trends and inspiring fashionistas and consumers all over the world.

Whether she's captivating audiences with her mesmerizing acting, enchanting the fashion world with her impeccable style, or using her platform to advocate for social justice, Zendaya embodies a rare combination of elegance and authenticity that makes her not just a star, but an icon for a new generation.

Zendaya is one of the first Gen-Z celebrities. But in addition to her undeniable talent, she has an enchanting personality in her public appearances and an eagerness to use her voice and influence to raise awareness on social justice issues.

Today, we will speak about some of the most memorable Political Fashion moments of Zendaya. The story behind them, and why these moments carry so much meaning, symbolism and relevance in the current’s fashion climate. 

Goddess of Leather in Balmain

Zendaya´s wet Balmain dress for the Venice film festival 2021. Image Courtesy of GQ. 

There is a common misconception that haute couture resembles outdated aesthetics or looks “missy”. Although many of the techniques that come from high fashion have been inherited for centuries, fashion houses have been diligently working to stay relevant in a fashion industry where the fashion you produce is important, but the person who wears it is too. 

This draped look by Oliver Rousteing from Balmain embodies what high fashion means in the digital age of instant viral photos. The users wonder. “How is this made?” “Is this dress soft or hard or both?” And of course, all of this on top of the many compliments on how appealing this dress is to Zendaya’s figure.

Zendaya wore Bulgari jewelry for her appearance at the 2021 Film Festival. Image Courtesy of Vogue. 

The leather drapes off her as if she was a marble statue, creating a “second-skin”. It’s almost like a live action moment comes to life. The dress blends gracefully high end traditional couture with new technologies to present a look that is modern, and refreshing but classic and timeless at the same time. 

Another aspect of Zendaya’s incredible fashion style is her styling. Zendaya, as a proud ambassador of Italian luxury fashion accessory house Bulgari, wore an emerald necklace and ring from the Bulgari's Magnifica high jewelry collection.

“The goddess arrived” Oliver Rousteing on Instagram.
Image Courtesy of Vogue

Robot Futurism from Mugler's Fashion Archive

Zendaya in a vintage “Gynoid” suit. Image Courtesy of Vogue. 

Fashion inspiration comes from everywhere. Sometimes it is a fashion magazine. Sometimes it is a landscape being displayed at the gallery in your neighborhood. For Zendaya, the inspiration this time came from Thierry Mugler’s Fall/Winter 1995 couture collection. 

Zendaya’s stylist Law Roach, describes in The Run-Through with Vogue podcast how he and the celebrity met with Mugler’s team not so long after the founder of the fashion house passed away. 

Zendaya and Law had the strong desire of borrowing this futuristic bodysuit that Mugler himself and longtime artist collaborator Jean-Jacques Urcun created in a diligent process that took about six months. 

Now, when celebrities use fashion archives (meaning, fashion pieces that are now part of the historic archive of a fashion house or a collection), no alterations can be made. No darts to adjust, no sleeves to tailor, and no hems to adjust. This was particularly true in the case of a metallic suit created in 1995, that consists of several pieces embodying arms, wrists, knees, elbows and shoulders. 

Mugler’s archive piece for the Fall Winter 1995 couture collection. It took six months to be made! Image Courtesy of Vogue. 

The result of this collaboration was a Cinderella moment, where no alterations had to be made and Zendaya was able to walk with this metallic suit into the international premiere of Dune 2 in London. 

The suit embodies the contemporary vision of Zendaya in her role as an actress who is also a young activist and a woman of color. But at the same time, it embodies the futuristic vision of fashion from the 90s. A suit inspired by the fictional character Futura from Metropolis captured international fashion press in the 90s, and then again in 2024. 

The catsuit is known by Mugler as  “Machinenmensch,” or Machine Human.

Because of the nature of the catsuit, no alterations or new pieces could be made to the Mugler archive piece. However, the 1995 catsuit fit Zendaya for the Dune 2 premiere in London. Image Courtesy of Vogue Scandinavia. 

Fashion History at CFDA 2021 

The concept of hair has been heavily politicized over the last decades. Women of color are facing discrimination in the workplace due to the nature of their hair, being forced to go through heavily uncomfortable, expensive and tedious treatments that straighten their hair in order to meet standards of beauty. 

So in recent years, there has been advocacy and even state legislation to regulate hair discrimination and raise more awareness about this issue. 

Zendaya showed up at the 2021 CFDA Fashion awards using Vera Wang. Image Courtesy of CFDA. 

But there are more conversations to have about this subject; understanding everyone’s backgrounds and being able to interact with each other while celebrating fashion. 

Under this sociopolitical context, Zendaya has been leveraging her influence and relevance to bring awareness on this issue. One of the most memorable moments of the celebration of her hair style was her appearance at the CFDA Fashion Awards 2021.

Zendaya’s braids captured the press attention and have been celebrated by fans worldwide. Image Courtesy of Vogue.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America celebrates every year outstanding fashion figures in the United States, from designers and artists to spokespeople who influence the path that the fashion industry follows. 

In 2021, Zendaya received the fashion icon award for the CFDA. For this event, she wore a crop top by Vera Wang with a skirt and long braids that went all the way below her back. 

Zendaya interprets fashion celebrating her heritage, creating meaningful and impactful moments collaborating with stylists, fashion designers and creators who are working hard in the fashion industry to push the boundaries even further. 

Zendaya is the epitome of modern-day iconography, seamlessly blending talent, grace, and influence into an unmistakable presence. From her breakout roles in television to commanding the big screen, she effortlessly transcends genres and mediums, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Looking forward to the fashion ahead. 

Zendaya wears a magnetic charisma that extends beyond her performances, resonating with audiences worldwide as a beacon of empowerment and individuality.