Zendaya wears a Cinderella costume and smiles slightly at the camera.

Nothing, and I Mean NOTHING, Will Ever Top Zendaya Being Cinderella at the Met Gala

ICONIC

Yes, there have been some great looks in the two Met Galas (2020’s was canceled because of the pandemic) since 2019. For instance, we had Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress, Blake Lively’s 2022 “oxidized” look, and this year Doja Cat taking the (questionable) theme quite literally, as she dressed as fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette. But nothing will ever be as iconic as Zendaya gracing the red carpet dressed like Cinderella.

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In 2019 the theme was “Camp” and as usual, many celebrities turned up trying to outdo one another. (Plus plenty of others who simply didn’t understand the theme.) But then Zendaya arrived with her stylist Law Roach, and social media was ablaze.

I remember watching the clip over and over – I was mesmerized. Once they were on the carpet, Roach, dressed in the Fairy Godmother’s cloak waved his magic ‘wand’ and, in a swirl of smoke, her dress began to come to life.

Now, I’m no fashionista, but I’d like to think I recognize, if not a gorgeous fit, then an unforgettable moment. This past weekend, in prep for the latest event, people on social media were sharing the celebrities they believed put out all of the stops and which was their favorite, and numerous people pointed to Zendaya in 2019.

She’d gone all out with this look. Of course, the legendary blue dress was central to her outfit, but she also adorned the princess’ blonde hair in a bun, a headband, a black choker, a purse shaped like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, and they obviously didn’t forget the glass slippers either. She even played the part and left one at the top of the Met steps.

Some did argue that the dress was “ugly.” When I looked on Twitter, there were recent tweets from people who said that they wanted people to “admit” that opinion, or felt like enough time had passed for them themselves to say it. But I personally think it’s jealousy and that some people simply have no taste.

Talking about the dress, Roach told Vogue that the concept was directly inspired by the actress’ career growth, from Shake it Up on Disney to HBO and Euphoria. “[It’s] the total opposite of every character I think she’s ever played and a huge stretch from K.C. Undercover. It’s almost like this is the last hoorah and the last time people will identify her as a Disney princess—which isn’t a bad thing.”

“It has to be literal enough so that people get it. When you see Cinderella, you know right away it’s her; the baby blue dress and the hair and the French twist it all works together.”

The dress, which took eight months to materialize, was made in collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger. Roach explained that they “hunted down” the team that had created  Hussein Chalayan’s Spring 2007 collection and Violet Chachki, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

He said that they would have to tone it down or make sure to top it the next time Zendaya attended, “Next year we’re going to have to [either] chill out or come down from a helicopter like Diana Ross at the Superbowl. When this goes off like it’s supposed to what else can you do?”

However, she hasn’t attended the gala since, and Roach recently announced his retirement from the fashion industry citing mental and physical health issues, saying that he “wasn’t happy”. This makes me very much doubt that Zendaya will have a Diana Ross helicopter moment, or anything like that, any time soon, if ever. And honestly, even if he hadn’t retired and she had attended another one before he did, I think maybe we would’ve got something to talk about but nothing like this.

According to Vogue, the technology for the gown included five battery packs that produced half a kilowatt of energy, 20 carbon fiber rods, and 40 meters worth of LED lights. The woman was a literal Christmas tree.

The 26-year-old seemed to confirm the Disney farewell. She wrote in the caption of her Instagram post about the gala, “Thank you to my Fairy Godbrutha for a fairytale ending to my Disney days.”

It seemed like an utter dream, and I will envy her chance to wear that dress and have that magical moment forever. I think it’s safe to say that this will, also, forever be one of my favorite pop culture moments because … wow. She may no longer be affiliated with Disney Channel, but she will always be a princess to me.

(featured image: Karwai Tang/Getty Images)


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Author
Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.