‘Euphoria’ — A Cultural Phenomenon In Fashion And Beauty

Known as the ‘Euphoria effect’, the hit series has taken the world by storm with its striking and wondrous fashion — causing a stirring movement for younger generations even after its conclusion.

Courtesy of HBO Go

Fashion and television have always been interwoven. Sometimes it doesn’t work quite well, but other times it proves to be a beautiful marriage. We’ve seen the legendary looks from ‘Sex and the City’, funky, fresh fits in ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, cute preppy clothes from ‘Clueless and swanky, luxe getups in ‘Dynasty’.

Enters HBO’s smash hit show, ‘Euphoria’. An American teen drama created and written by Sam Levinson — about struggles with drugs, love, social media, money and coming of age, all while trying to establish their identities. It might’ve been seen as outlandish in every aspect if it were to air decades back, but its narratives on growing pains aren’t entirely new. Even so, the show has proved to be a juggernaut for audiences on screen and especially online.

Courtesy of HBO

Honestly, with icon Zendaya and many other glowing talents starring in the show, it wasn’t exactly unforeseen when ‘Euphoria’ reached a new milestone in its popularity. According to Twitter’s report, the drama became the most tweeted about TV show in the U.S. this decade. The second season of ‘Euphoria’ has also garnered 30 million tweets since its debut in January, a whopping 51 per cent increase from the first season in 2019.

I could go on for hours about every other element of the show, namely the direction, shots, lighting, location, acting…quite literally everything about production. However, for this piece, I shall delve into the fashion and makeup, both of which were intricately and brilliantly used to convey the intentions and emotional states of each character.

The Influence

The storylines resonated with people, deeply even for some, and also propelled tons of fashion and beauty trends. All the talk around the show has shone a spotlight on costume designer Heidi Bivens at the helm, for her emblematic work that’s redefining fashion, especially for the younger generations.

If you’re on Tiktok, along with the majority of Gen Z, you probably know about the ‘Euphoria’ trend. The app has seen creators dress up in their finest high school and ‘Euphoria’ inspired outfits. First originated from @ellio_spaghettio, the video has over 818k views now and counting. If you’ve joined in on this trend, I’ll bet you knocked it out of the park along with many netizens’ dazzling outfits.

Courtesy of HBO

When season two’s first episode debuted, fashion e-commerce aggregator Love the Sales saw an enormous increase within 48 hours for specific fashion items worn by ‘Euphoria’ characters. The most remarkable search was “black cutout dresses” — referencing the Akna Store black cutout dress adorned by Alexa Demie (Maddy) during the New Year’s Eve party — which went up by 890 per cent.

Even after the last episode was out, the cast of ‘Euphoria’ is still making waves in the fashion industry. Luxury brands have had leaps in sales when the absolute stars of the show wore their collections or sat front row in fashion shows. Angus Cloud notably generated US$3.4 million in media impact value for Coach after sitting front row and was named the new face of Polo by Ralph Lauren fragrances, according to Business of Fashion.

Courtesy of HBO Go

The young talents have captured the media’s attention and landed brand ambassadorships, collaborations and campaigns, as well as magazine covers and spreads. Actresses Sydney Sweeney and Demie are in the running to play Madonna in her upcoming biopic, and Sweeney landed a role in Sony’s Marvel Movie ‘Madame Web’ .’

Courtesy of HBO Go

For season two’s red carpet, the cast came all decked out in gorgeous looks. Zendaya graced us with a bold, vintage Valentino dress from the fashion house’s spring 1992 collection; Hunter Schafer clad in a burgundy organza Prada dress; and Demie went with a sequined black dress with satin boots from Balenciaga. Meanwhile, Maude Apatow was dressed in a beaded, sheer Saint Laurent dress and Sydney Sweeny opted for a two-piece white Miu Miu set embellished with beads. The men also brought high-fashion, with musician Dominic Fike sporting a black floral printed Saint Laurent suit and Angus Cloud in a neon orange suit from Versace’s spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection. Clearly, they came to slay and the wow factor is certainly present.

There’s no doubt that ‘Euphoria’ actors are thriving and will be the fashion intermediaries of tomorrow. The most momentous is the show’s representation in diverse body types, racial backgrounds, identities and sexual orientations. Statement-making fits are having a moment and are here to stay, indefinitely.

Courtesy of HBO Go

The Clothes

We know that early aughts fashion has been making a comeback and ‘Euphoria’ further affirmed it. Every episode delivered a fantastical runway and vintage wear also took centre stage, as expected when many TV shows are leaning more prominently into vintage clothes.

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Surely, in episode two of season two, fashionistas were obsessed over newcomer Samantha’s (played by Minka Kelly) coveted designer-filled closet where Maddy browsed through and relished in. The walk-in wardrobe features an array of exquisite pieces from Aralda Vintage with the likes of Loris Azzaro, Mugler, Christian Lacroix, Dior, Valentino and Alexander McQueen.

Apparently, Demie was one of the firsts in the bricks-and-mortar store when founder Brynn Jones opened it in 2017. Jones shares on Vogue that “more people are falling in love with vintage” and to have leading stylists approach her illustrates how “vintage is very current again”.

Courtesy of HBO

The added magic in ‘Euphoria’, for me at least, was how the clothes piled on another layer of storytelling and emphasised the character’s narrative or personal struggles. In the first season, we see a lighter, brightly coloured wardrobe and meanwhile, a darker one in the second season was incorporated to reflect heavier subjects.

Some standouts were Cassie’s blue, form-fitting House of CB dress, Maddy’s little black dress with a blue ruffle neckline from Marc Jacobs and Kat’s (played by Barbie Ferreira) printed mesh dress with matching gloves from UK-based brand Auné. And on the other side of the screen, Fez, Rue and Elliot served us with laid-back street looks that emanated the cool, hippe vibe effortlessly.

Other than Lexi’s put-together, collared Miu Miu dress, the character’s stylish outfits in her autobiographical play were definitely spectacular as well. The range and shift in style from Jules was a delight too — pastel colours and miniskirts to mesh leotards and beaded tops. Also, who can forget the matching sweater and trouser sets that both Maddy and Cassie wore.

The Makeup

Now, I normally wouldn’t go into makeup, because I categorise that under ‘beauty’. Although, it is part of ‘style’ and I like to think I’m adequately knowledgeable on makeup and all things beauty related (thanks to my lovely friends and the reliable people of the internet, of course). Anyway, I digress. The makeup in Euphoria is simply too remarkable to not talk about!

Courtesy of @raoulalejandre

Makeup artist Donni Davy is trailblazing vivid colours, graphic lines and just enough glitter for ‘casual’ everyday looks. In season two, she introduces ‘emotional glam’.

“The approach is always to work collaboratively with the cast members and understand where they’re coming from in a particular scene or episode and get their take on what their frame of mind is,” said Davy.

Another pointer would be the crystal makeup. We’ve mostly only worn sparkling diamonds on our faces to music festivals and the likes, but with what the world has been through the past two years because of the pandemic, we’re not taking any chances. Sidebar, no more waiting for ‘the right occasion’ because the time is now. We’re taking any excuse to go all out, and that includes makeup.

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Gems on faces have been around and even infiltrated the red carpets. We’ve seen Lupita Nyong’o at the Miu Miu Nuit Club with gem eye-shadow, Machine Gun Kelly at the 2021 MTV VMAs with pearls sculpting his face, Dua Lipa with crystals lining her eyes at the iHeartRadio Music Festival. But of course, as a ‘Euphoria’ fanatic, I’d say what made the trend really sing since 2019 is the spellbinding work of the characters’ makeup looks (where Davy,Kristen Sage Coleman and Tara Lang Shah took home the Emmy Award for Outstanding Contemporary Makeup in 2020.

Something we can all look forward to later this Spring, in May, is Davy’s whimsical cosmetics line — Half Magic. In all its glitz and glamour, the products are described to be as functional and were used throughout season two. Supported by film and TV studio A24, which is intentionally moving from ‘entertainment’ to ‘lifestyle’, Half Magic was born from the beauty cultural sensation by ‘Euphoria’ fans all over the world, as per WWD.

The highly anticipated line has been brewing since 2019 and in the meantime, you can sign up for its newsletter here.

The Manicure

And yet another thing I love about the style in this show — every single element was not disregarded or overlooked, not even the nails.

Audiences see a range of designs, from classic, timeless nails and bold designs to Y2K styles. All of which were the brainchilds of Los Angeles nail artist Natalie Minerva and conceptualised accordingly to each character’s personality.

The highly anticipated line has been brewing since 2019 and in the meantime, you can sign up for its newsletter here.

Personally, I’ve gone through phases when it comes to nails and grown to be very particular about the designs I wear. Sometimes you think you’ll like it but once it’s on your hands you start hating it (just me?). I went from neons and loud designs to classic French tips and never really glanced at gems, but ‘Euphoria’ nails have made me a convert. They’re combining everything tastefully, which I can’t decide if it helps me much because I am spoiled for choices now!

For Euphoria inspired mani-pedis, check out OKKONAILS in Singapore.

The Epilogue

Out of all the stunning looks, I must confess that my absolute favourites have got to be Maddy’s looks. If I could instantly have everything in her wardrobe, I’d flaunt the fits whenever and leave this world wholly satisfied. Also, side note, imagine being the stars of a major show and getting dolled up on set for every episode…you’ll be bringing your A-game and brimming with confidence. What’s more, everything ties in impeccably together, it’s not too much or too little but just right.

If you’re in need of more inspiration to form your own Euphoria concepts and find your style, take a look at this Pinterest board by Dames in Dire Straits.

Read about seven labels that are championing traditional batik and designing beautiful, modern pieces here.

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