When you peruse through Zendaya’s archive of red carpet looks, it is a surefire way to receive a dose of sartorial-induced serotonin. Take, for example, her canary yellow, custom Versace gown from the 93rd Annual Academy Awards that was optimism executed through haute couture. Her opulent ensembles rank as some of the best in fashion history, but the actor recently admitted her journey as a style legend started with very humble origins. In a conversation with InStyle’s Editor-in-Chief Laura Brown for the November 2021 cover, the actor revealed a wholesome truth about her style file: Zendaya’s first-ever red carpet outfit was from Target.
“When I was 14, and at my first movie premiere, my outfit was a bunch of stuff that I had from Target. And I thought I was fly. I felt cool,” she shared with Brown. Unfortunately, the actor didn’t confirm the exact details surrounding her look or the premiere she attended, but the photo below, circa 2010, is the earliest red carpet photo of Zendaya to be found. This makes it a prime candidate for the Tarjay look in question. Her baby pink lace dress, bolero jacket with sequin detailing, and patterned sheer tights were peak 2010 vibes.
The Emmy winner went on to add that she’s come to view her red carpet appearances as deeply meaningful experiences. “I think about red carpets as having their own characters and narratives. We build a little story for all the looks,” she said in the same interview. (The “we” likely being Zendaya and her stylist Law Roach, who has dressed her for about a decade.) “[Red carpet appearances are] like an extension of my acting career in a weird way — you just pop this wig on or whatever it is,” said Zendaya.
She continued: “Clothes sometimes are very emotional, so I get to embody these different facets — maybe they're of myself, or maybe they're alter egos. But I get to meet these different women through clothes [and on the red carpet],” she said. As for one of Zendaya’s personal favorite ensembles out of her many red carpet personas? “The pink Tom Ford breastplate [at the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards] was one of my favorites. Nothing could hurt me — I was like a warrior,” she mused.
Coincidentally, at the 2021 Women In Film Honors ceremony, Zendaya wore an ensemble with a similar-looking breastplate, which some considered an homage to last year’s outfit. This time around though, Zendaya chose a gray dress with a gold metal plate from Loewe’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection.
In the same interview, Zendaya also noted that a few of her favorite red carpet ensembles included her armored Joan of Arc look from the 2018 Met Gala and the Moschino butterfly motif gown from the Australian premiere of The Greatest Showman in 2017. If you’d like to reminisce over the actor’s extensive file of red carpet looks yourself, check out more of her outfits here.