Zendaya Goes Red and Cropped to Channel Joan of Arc at Met Gala

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Zendaya

The starlet dresses like a religious icon, ready for battle, down to her naturally textured hair.

Zendaya is not one to shy away from a bold look, as we’ve learned watching the young actress and performer on red carpets the last few years. This Met Gala was no exception. While other stars paraded around in biblical-referencing headdresses and golden body-con dresses (or dressed, as Rihanna, like the actual pope), Zendaya went in a wholly original direction, wearing custom Versace, styled by Law Roach, that brought Joan of Arc to life in the most glamorous way possible.

When hairstylist Ursula Stephen saw the dress, she thought, “That’s amazing. It’s like Joan of Arc, her dress is pretty much a replication of that kind of strength. I don't remember much about the story, but I do remember she wanted to be a soldier, like a boy, so she cut off her own hair. It was a mix of Joan of Arc, Catholicism and Versace, all put together.”

Since The Greatest Showman, Stephen says she and Zendaya had been toying with the idea of going red, and this provided the perfect opportunity. She put in extensions, dyed them and took scissors to the locks to cut the shape, later using only her hands and a couple of key products to create the look. After all, Joan of Arc wouldn’t have had access to hot tools either. “I looked at references of Joan of Arc and that time, and figured if she’s going to fight a war she’s in that natural state of sweaty hair with a natural wave — natural, strong beauty,” says Stephen, who loves that Zendaya epitomizes such an aesthetic consistently.

In the spirit of blending the old with the current, she used her “old faithful,” Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, along with the new TRESemme Micro Mist Hairspray for textured hair to add hold. “I really scrunched it, and then she squeezed it and pushed it around,” says Stephen, who believes every woman needs to look in the mirror and push or move something to truly feel comfortable.

Ultimately, she says, “the Met Ball for me is always fucking decoding a puzzle. They announce the theme, and me, as a creative person, I’m researching and biting my nails until I figure out how to decode it. The theme this year is easy, right? Catholicism: crosses, crowns. But what about those people who weren’t part of that circle, but were solders fighting, going through whatever? I think Zendaya would want people to appreciate that she had her own individualistic take on it.”