Styling Ariana DeBose for her “Wish” press tour started with some “very important questions,” stylist Zadrian Smith said.
In collaboration with business partner Sarah Edmiston, the stylist has been creating looks for DeBose for nearly four years. This particular collaboration is a seemingly monumental one, as “Wish” will showcase DeBose voicing Disney’s first Afro-Latina princess, Asha.
“We kept revisiting this idea, thinking to ourselves that there are going to be a lot of young girls of color who are going to see Ariana. So, what messaging do we want them to receive? Most importantly, we want them to see themselves,” Smith said.
From a styling perspective, Smith wanted to showcase timeless ensembles often embraced by classic Disney heroines to young girls: cue in the wispy ballgown, silver Brunello Cucinelli power suit and botanical-patterned Aje minidress.
Smith even worked with hairstylists Takisha Sturdivant-Drew and Araxi Lindsey to style DeBose’s hair into different types of braids. “We knew that would be something immediately recognizable for both African culture and Latina culture,” he said.
The Thursday theatrical premiere of “Wish” also aligns with Disney’s 100-year anniversary. As a nod to the franchise, each of DeBose’s press-tour outfits pointed to a Disney character.
“It was Ariana’s idea,” Smith said about the rollout of looks, which included the pink turtleneck and green Oscar de la Renta skirt that DeBose wore to the New York screening of the film in November — inspired by Rapunzel, and the denim sequin-embellished Missoni suit that DeBose wore to the “Wish” photo call that same month, which mirrored Stitch from “Lilo & Stitch.”
“Wish” is the latest project in DeBose’s ascent to stardom, following her viral women-empowerment rap performance, which got more than 5 million views on social media, at the 2023 BAFAs, and her prestigious 2022 Oscar win for role in “West Side Story.”
“Styling Ariana has really been a holistic experience. It’s been really wonderful to have the space as a creative to grow and evolve with her,” Smith said. “She’s given us some wonderful challenges that have made us think outside the box and pushed us out of our comfort zone.”