Menu Menu

How Euphoria has sparked a fashion and beauty movement

Through its unique clothing choices and makeup looks, HBO’s Euphoria is a perfect encapsulation of Gen Z as we know them today.

By now you’ve probably heard of Euphoria, the brand-new series that’s changing television with its controversial themes of depression, addiction and sex in the age of social media.

Costume designer Heidi Bivens has called the show’s style a ‘time capsule’ of how teens dress today so, to celebrate the UK launch of Euphoria yesterday, let’s take a look at how it’s sparking a Gen Z fashion and beauty movement.

Written, created and directed by Sam Levinson, the coming-of-age drama is as concerned with aesthetics as it is with the story, breaking barriers with beauty through a hyper-visual lens.

From Rue’s laid-back gender subversive vibe and Jules’ elaborate outfits, to Kat’s transformation into a badass dominatrix, and Maddy’s revealing-meets-refined style, there’s a reason we’re obsessed with what all the characters are wearing.

Showcased by some well-known names like Zendaya and Jacob Elordi as well as the young, up-and-coming cast that includes Barbie Ferreira and Hunter Shafer, the entire wardrobe is an eclectic combination of designer pieces, vintage finds, and streetwear looks that are perfectly tailored to suit the unique personalities of the teens they play.

When asked what inspired her choices, Bivens replied: ‘in general, all my references printed on the wall of the costume office were modern pictures of teens today. Instagram is a goldmine for current style references and inspiration.’

Euphoria has taken a step back from the common tendency of TV shows aimed at teenagers to provide viewers with unrealistic expectations of what they should look like. It goes without saying that we are heavily influenced by what we see on screen and it becomes pretty unrelatable when a 25-year-old is playing a 16-year-old dressed head to toe in Chanel.

Now, we have a great example of how modern fashion has been democratised in terms of how it’s marketed to us and also the way in which we shop. There’s a real sense of normalcy in Euphoria and instead of striving to create new fads, Bivens has successfully replicated a phenomenon that already exists – what we’re all wearing right now.

Representing high street and mid-range brands as well as alternative fashion labels, Bivens gives us a seriously wide variety of looks we very easily have access to. She also makes it even simpler by referencing apps like eBay, Etsy and Depop to highlight the rise of ‘direct-to-consumer retail’ which has redefined exclusivity and means we can wear what we want, when we want.

What’s interesting, is that every single item that we see on the show can be found online, and almost all of it has already completely sold out. Instead of trawling the internet for several hours to find the exact cut-out two-piece Maddy infamously wears in the carnival scene, you can find it at the click of a button thanks to Bivens decision to be more inclusive with her costume design ideas.

‘While we were working hard putting each episode together, I didn’t have the foresight to realize how much interest there would be in all the details of the costumes,’ she says.

But it’s not just the clothing that seemingly takes centre stage in Euphoria. It would be an understatement to say that Doniella Davy’s work to ‘blend gen z brilliance into tv magic’ has been the catalyst for a makeup movement – it’s totally revolutionary.

With the knowledge that ‘teenagers switch things up constantly’ in mind, Davy fuses reality with fantasy, experimentation with the mainstream. ‘Gen Z uses makeup not only to portray who they are but who they want to be that day,’ she says.

It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen on television before. There’s something so unique about the various bold and unconventional looks that are completely normal in the show’s uber-realistic portrayal of what it’s like as an American teenager in 2019 and we’re loving it.

Furthermore, ‘there’s subliminal emotional messages always in all the makeup,’ says Davy. Rather than focussing on making the actors and actresses look their best in front of the camera, Euphoria’s leading MUA had the ultimate goal of helping viewers understand the characters on a much deeper level. Tie-dye neon eyeshadow, gem-studded eyebrows and geometric liner are definitely ‘makeup goals’ that’ll make you want to rush to your nearest mirror and try out, but they’re also emulative of emotions and character development.

Take Rue for example. Leaving her makeup free would have been the obvious choice, but Davy didn’t want to succumb to the ‘cliché of a tomboy drug addict who’s always bare faced’ and consequently went for the glitter under her eyes to imitate tears because ‘it makes her more nuanced.’

Or Jules, who, as a transgender, feels as though she needs to conform to being overtly feminine, but eventually realises that she can actually just be herself and embrace whatever makes her feel most confident. We see, therefore, an evolution in the makeup she wears from pink glitter and soft palettes to more striking eye designs that truly make her stand out from the rest.

As wild as the world of Euphoria seems, all the makeup looks are intentional and deliberate, carefully thought out by Davy to reflect the ups and downs that the characters are experiencing.

Both the fashion and beauty elements of the show are promoting freedom of expression, with Bivens stressing the importance of ‘sharing your voice, being vulnerable, talking with others, having no fear, leaning on friends, being true to yourself and asking for help when you need it.’

While the clothes and makeup are not the main draw of Euphoria, they certainly play a huge role in the series’ success, as they remain inherently present throughout but do not distract from serious topics explored.

‘A new generation is coming up who are inheriting a world that has become more complicated since even the last generation, and love and understanding are more important now than ever,’ says Bivens, and we couldn’t agree more.

Embracing difference, none of the characters in Euphoria are belittled or made fun of for their makeup or clothing choices. There’s no slut shaming or discrimination and nobody looks the same – it’s a world where everything is acceptable and we stan.

So, what do you think? Are you just as obsessed with the fashion and beauty side of Euphoria? Are you going to give it a watch tonight? Let us know in the comments.


Thred Newsletter!

Sign up to our planet-positive newsletter