- Words Isabelle Cassidy
We mark the release of Season 2 with a fashion round-up: exploring five times the Euphoria costume designers demonstrated the capacity for storytelling through iconic outfits.
Cast your mind back to June 2019. In a world with many lockdowns looming, Euphoria is set to become the escapist drama that inspires countless TikTok trends, embodies a Gen-Z aesthetic and causes a huge surge in glitter eye-makeup looks. Early noughties nostalgia is the name of the game, as the gritty lives of a group of high-school students are portrayed alongside costuming decisions that offer more than meets the eye.
After a wait of almost 18 months, this weekend saw the release of the first episode of Season 2. Reported as breaking HBO Max’s all-time viewer record by pulling an audience of 2.4 million, the new episodes look set to build on the show’s established success. To celebrate the long-awaited return of the small-screen’s most troubled teens, we take a dive into the fashion moments so far that have set the show’s costuming out from the rest. Whether demonstrating Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) consistent desire to push boundaries, or Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) finding of confidence through her sex work, the show’s clothes often tell a story just as gritty as the narrative itself.
We chose five of our favourite fashion moments and explored why they work so well.
1. Maddy’s constant desire to stand out from a crowd
Alexa Demie’s portrayal of Maddy Perez is one of the highlights of the show, and her toxic relationship with Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi) takes the viewer along for every bump of the painful rollercoaster. It is apt then, that the carnival is the location for one of Maddy’s most stand-out looks.
Maddy’s purple cut-out set from I Am Gia contrasts at an event where most carnival goer’s clothing is more conservative, if not more boring. Her character’s desire to push boundaries is demonstrated, as well as her boyfriend’s fragility in supporting her clothing choices. After an argument with him and his family, amongst other conflicts, this outfit triggers Nate to physically attack Maddy as the audience is shown the abusive nature of their relationship.
With this outfit, costume designer Heidi Bivens introduces the clash between Maddy’s boundary pushing fashion and the controlling nature of her surroundings. Her fashion choices are loaded, in an environment where they have the capacity to cause her physical harm. Ultimately, the bravery of this look makes it all the more iconic.
2. Kat finding her inner confidence
Kat Hernandez’s (Barbie Ferreira) narrative arc in Season 1 centres largely around her new career dominating men online. Starting the season body-conscious and blending in amongst her fashion-forward friends, this mall-outfit signifies the shift in Kat’s confidence.
Another example of the costuming holding deeper significance, Kat’s new found love for bondage-style harnesses, chokers and sheer fabrics coincide with an exploration of her sexuality and the dating world. Her eye-makeup is darker, lipstick brighter, and the audience is shown that Kat is finally allowing herself to take up the space she deserves.
3. Cassie’s lack of control over her body
In the sixth episode of Season 1, when Cassie and McKay are freshly official, he takes her to a halloween frat party he’s hazing for. Coming down the stairs wearing a blonde wig, blue bra-top and cow print skirt, Cassie’s ‘True Romance’ Alabama Worley costume is iconic in itself, inspiring plenty of copy-cat costumes in 2020. Less iconic, is McKay’s insistence that she puts on a football jersey after he deems her outfit too revealing.
A theme running throughout the series is the policing of the female character’s bodies by their partners, and this is starkly demonstrated by Cassie standing in the corner of the party wearing her oversized shirt. Cassie’s desire to please sees her controlled by her partners, in all aspects of her characterisation.
4. Rue and Jules’ fraught relationship
Zendaya’s Emmy award-winning depiction of Rue is characterised by her classic red hoodie and a selection of oversized tees. There are shifts away from this comfy uniform however, and coincide with her relationship with a single character- the bold and bright Jules (Hunter Schafer).
The costuming of this pair consistently represents their similarities and differences, we are introduced to Jules wearing a neon pixie-style outfit, not afraid to stand out on her first day at school. As their relationship deepens and Rue comes out of her shell, she wears items like this silk cropped red-shirt, that may have once seemed out of character. Her clothing choices shifts towards Jules’ style as they become more intertwined.
As any Euphoria fan will be painfully aware, their relationship is a complex one. At moments of relapse and difficult patches with Jules, Rue returns to her low-maintenance clothing, often lost in periods of substance abuse and struggling with mental health. The costuming signifies what state Rue might be in mentally, before we are told by her character.
5. The gradual darkening of fashion and beauty
As noted in a recent Vogue interview with the costume-designer, she suggested that the second season would bring with it a darker palette in-line with darker storylines. This concept was introduced towards the end of the last season, as fans noticed details like the darkening of Jules’ hair as the episodes continued.
Whilst diamanté eye-looks were one of the dominating styles, there is a suggestion that the latest series might shift as the characters ‘grow up’. Jules’ negotiation of her gender identity has begun to impact her fashion choices, Rue has relapsed and is far from thriving, and Cassie, Kat and Maddy continue to explore ways to push boundaries.
Whatever’s in store for the characters, their development will offer a set of new looks to decode, and a new set of trends to follow. Heidi Bivens and the costume team: we salute you.