'Euphoria Fashion' Gives a Masterclass in Costume Design
by Lexi CarsonApr 07, 2023
This week, A24 came out with Euphoria Fashion, a book that takes readers behind the scenes of the show’s beloved looks and gives fans their fashion fix before the series returns in 2024.
The show's Y2K themes, I. AM. GIA. sets and revealing high school outfits have influenced many viewers to explore their identities as it relates to style thanks in no small part to Euphoria costume designer Heidi Bivens.
Bivens got her career started here at PAPER as an intern before switching paths to styling and costume design. She’s worked on films including Spring Breakers, The Beach Bum, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and is teaming up with Euphoria’s creator, Sam Levinson, to work on The Idol.
Euphoria Fashion analyzes the ideas that went into creating the outfits. It also includes interviews with Bivens and cast members Zendaya, Alexa Demie, Hunter Schafer and Jacob Elordi, as well as essays from designers Jeremy Scott, Arianne Phillips, Coperni and a conversation between Bivens and Levinson.
Below, PAPER caught up with Bivens to discuss, among many things, how Euphoria Fashion can be a style textbook for fashion.
Why was now a good time to release this book?
We were on track for it to come out last Fall, but after missing a few deadlines it got pushed to this year. But I think it’s sort of serendipitous, because the third season of the show isn't going to come out until [the] end of 2024 so it's this long period between the seasons that the fans have to wait. And so I think during the lull in production, because of the pandemic, we did the two special episodes and that was Sam’s gift to the fans kind of like a bridge between season one and season two since they had to wait for so long. The book gives fans of the show something to consider while waiting for the new season.
Why was it important for you to walk a reader behind the scenes process of creating a character's costume?
I'm really passionate about my community of costume designers and supporting them. Tell me if I'm wrong, but out of all the books I've ever seen about costume design, they’re seldom put together by the actual costume designer. It's usually someone else doing an overview or it's about, not just the costumes, but a film or a series or something like that. I thought that it was an opportunity to show the process in a way that hopefully was entertaining and pulls the viewer in and maybe get some people thinking about it as a possible career choice.
I think a lot of the people in the industry who are costume designers now tend to be more advanced age, and I think there needs to be more diverse people coming in. It would be rewarding for me if I found out at some point later on that someone who would have never maybe necessarily gone into costumes otherwise was inspired by what happened with the show to think about costumes.
The fashion in Euphoria is so distinctive and was so loved by fans, inspiring many themed parties, Halloween costumes and everyday looks. How does it feel to know that the show has had such an influential impact on the audience’s fashion choices?
It's difficult for me to feel good about taking credit for what I think was already happening. I just had an opportunity to put it on television. I think that's where I feel good about; acknowledging that I contributed something like the history of style in television. Like, teens probably can't wear those kinds of clothes to school, but in being provocative we were able to stand out. I'm excited for the whole crew. All the actors involved, everyone involved, because, we all did that. So this book is a celebration of that. And for me, it's a love letter to costume designers. And, and costume.
Why were Coperni and Arianne Phillips important to have contribute to this book?
The designers of Coperni are people who I really admire. I think they're really at the forefront of fashion. They had expressed a love of the show and social media and then their runway show, the one that was lined with school lockers, happened right after the first season came out. They mentioned Euphoria in the press notes for the runway show. I really felt like we had arrived once I saw that we've been referenced like that.
And, because I've been involved in the fashion industry since the beginning of my career before segueing into film and TV, it was especially moving to me to get the recognition of designers like them who I felt were really forging a way forward in fashion and doing some of the most exciting stuff. Because of that, I asked him if they would be interested in doing a conversation for the book.
And then Arianne Phillips is someone who I deeply respect and admire since the beginning of my career. She was celebrity styling, doing music videos, working in film. I loved that I didn't need to subscribe to this idea that I think was very popular at the time back then, that you needed to focus on one thing and only do one thing, or people were going to be confused about what you do. And I just never listened to those people. And she gave me the courage to do that.
The title is pretty self-explanatory, but how deep into fashion does it go?
I love the captions that I was able to make about all the costumes which are featured in the book and all this sort of minutiae that goes into the thought process. I think there's one caption about Kat’s character where I'm talking about why I chose a t-shirt she wears. And I did that stream of conscious tangent explanation where I say this made me think of this, which made me think of this, which is why I chose this, and then it led to this. I just love that, because that's how people's brains work. We seldom get a window into that. I don't know how interested people are in that window, but the book is there to find out. And this will mean that, someone like [costume designer] Shirley Kurata can do a book for Everything Everywhere All At Once, that Miyako Bellizzi can do a book for the work she does on the Safdie brother’s movies, that, these designer friends who are my peers will also get the same opportunity.
Maddy wears a lot of Marc Jacobs in the show. How do you find the connection between a character and designer?
I think I am heavily relying on instinct. For whatever reason, my memory selects to remember sartorial details about people's choices of what they're wearing. And I'll stop people on the street and ask them, what is that? What are you wearing? I'm always curious. And I love talking to people. But usually, it comes from these sort of style rules that I've talked about how I create. These rules that I stick to for each character. Jules loves to layer, Rue doesn't wear skirts, or dresses. Cassie is always trying to be attractive to cisgender men, so there's these general rules, and then it can get really more specific, but I think all sort of reflect on these style rules. So you're just kind of building in your mind, and then just trying to create some authenticity for each character so that you can believe it, because it's really important that I believe it.
Why were brands initially hesitant to work with the show and how has that shifted?
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that brands are just in the past few years starting to realize the value of putting costumes on actors on TV and in film. That there can be a sort of a monetary reward for that somehow for a brand that isn't just a favor. As things are changing as to how advertising is done, and where dollars are being spent, by brands for advertising, for example. While magazines are still here, and they're not going anywhere, and I’m thankful for that, because I love magazines, and I love publishing. But I think brands have found other ways to just spend those ad dollars. And I think, television and film is sort of a new frontier in a way.
I think one of the tricky things in the past has just been the turnaround. So you lend something or you send something for a film project or a TV project, chances are its current season but then you're not going to see that come out for usually at least one season, maybe two seasons, sometimes more. So there's that sort of aspect of it. That has been a detractor, but I think now brands and designers are starting to understand that it's just the presence of their designs on camera, on an actor in a project if it's cool has value. That even if you can't click on the thing and buy it right then, that it builds awareness.
I’m just rooting for Rue and her health and happiness.
If I had a crystal ball, I would say Rue is going to be in a different place in season three. It won't be that rock bottom of season two, throughout season three, but Sam loves a flashback. So I think there's a chance there could be more of that, where the majority of the story I had to guess will be taking place in one tense and then we'll be experiencing whatever we might have missed over that five years in flashbacks with Rue being the not always completely predictable narrator.
Photos courtesy of HBO and A24