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Euphoria: The Glitter & The Gore

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

Twinkling eyeshadow paired with gut punches and sparkly dresses accompanying addiction. This is the constant juxtaposition of the world’s favorite show. “Euphoria” tackles hard-hitting teenage issues and couples them with looks that will rock the internet for days.

Even in its darkest moments, Sam Levinson’s “Euphoria” is forever attentive to aesthetics. These aesthetics are not just meant as gossip fodder for style magazines but are true reflections of the characters, their identities, and their growth. As Cassie, a prevalent side character who’s dating her best friend's abusive ex, suffers an identity crisis throughout the season the confusion is depicted through her clothes. She can’t seem to settle on a personal sense of style. She shifts from hyper-femininity to cowgirl core to outrightly mimicking her best friend, Maddy’s, outfits. Cassie has forever defined herself through male desirability and she feels as though she doesn’t exist if she isn’t desired. So, when she’s bargaining for her boyfriend’s attention, she shifts through a variety of different skins trying to see which will attract him the most.

This fashion storytelling isn’t limited to Cassie, however. Rue wears a jacket of her deceased father throughout the majority of season one. It is her way of holding onto his memory as she seeps deeper and deeper into an addiction to cope with her grief. His jacket represents a sort of safety blanket for Rue and when she sheds it in season two, the viewer can visually see how she’s slowly healing from the loss. As Rue fluctuates in and out of recovery, she intermittently wears the jacket to represent the way the jacket and drugs make her feel connected to her father.

Jules’ identity struggle is also conveyed through the way she presents herself to the world. In season one she struggles deeply with her perception and identity and as such dresses to prove her femininity to the world. Her wardrobe is playful and consists of crop tops, skirts, and pastel colors. In the show, Jules says that in her attempts to conquer a sense of womanhood she has instead been conquered by womanhood itself. At the end of season one, she breaks away from the clasp of traditional gender roles and finds the freedom to define womanhood however she sees it. In season two the evolution is seen in full force. Jules cuts off her hair, dresses androgynously, and wears graphic, intense makeup.

“Euphoria” has pioneered a new world of makeup in and of itself. Levinson requires minimal foundation coverage. He swaps out concealer for eyeliner, crystals, and glitter eyeshadow. The fallen glitter is meant to represent the character's inner turmoil and work as a stand-in for tears. Maddy’s look often incorporates studs and rhinestones her own personal brand of armor. Jules leans on whimsical, experimental makeup that represents her journey with her identity over time. Rue rarely wears any makeup other than the occasional eye makeup. Cassie’s makeup is almost always soft with blush tones and tiny sparkles highlighting her need to be approachable, lovable, and traditionally feminine.

Our identities are innately tied to the ways in which we present ourselves to others. Even if it’s subconscious we are always performing our identity to others. “Euphoria” understands this desire and uses clothes and makeup as another layer for the viewer to unravel in hopes of understanding the characters we love and root for.

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