Last Thursday night, ESSENCE held its 14th annual Black Women In Hollywood Awards. The theme of the 2021 awards show, “Mastering Our Stories,” highlighted the resilience of Black women in Hollywood. Honouree Zendaya, with the help of her longtime stylist Law Roach, wore a vintage Haute Couture look by Yves Saint Laurent previously owned by the late Eunice Johnson, the founder of Ebony Fashion Fair and Ebony Magazine.
According to the stylist, the blue ensemble, which features power shoulders, a bow-embellished waist, and a black, slit-leg bottom half, was designed in 1982 and has lived in his personal archives, waiting for the perfect opportunity to be shown off. “We pay homage,” Roach wrote on his Instagram, showcasing photos of the Euphoria actress, as well as one of Johnson wearing the look on the cover of Ebony.
Johnson, who passed away in 2010, founded Ebony Magazine with her husband John H. Johnson in 1945. For more than 50 years, from 1958 to 2009, the accompanying Ebony Fashion Fair toured cities across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, showcasing Haute Couture and ready-to-wear collections from designers like YSL, Christian Dior, and Valentino to primarily Black audiences. Black designers like Patrick Kelly and Willi Smith were also promoted at the annual shows and in Ebony Magazine.
Zendaya looked every bit as elegant and poised as Johnson did wearing the '80s-era ensemble. Like Johnson, Zendaya paired the two-piece set with diamond chandelier earrings and rings, though Johnson’s take also featured a statement necklace, while Zendaya’s neck was bare at Thursday night’s awards show. To complement the ensemble, the actress wore Roger Vivier black pumps and Bulgari jewelry.
Zendaya wearing a look previously owned by Johnson at an event meant to honor the stories of Black women throughout history is a beautiful tribute. The fact that it was vintage and worn on Earth Day is just icing on the cake.