From the eye-catching ensembles of Carrie Bradshaw in ‘Sex and the City’ to the shoulder pads of ‘Dynasty’, fashion and television have long been linked.
Lately, no show has personified this alignment more than “Euphoria,” HBO’s hit high school drama centered on Rue, a character played by both style and screen superstar Zendaya. The show is a juggernaut not just onscreen, but online: Euphoria is already the most-tweeted show of the decade in the US so far – generating more than 30 million tweets since its second season on Jan. 9, according to Twitter.
Since it first aired in June 2019, the show has become synonymous with loud looks in both fashion – ’90s-inspired ensembles, cut-out dresses, mesh tops, vintage streetwear, dominatrix-inspired harnesses, lots of sparkles and of fishnets – and beauty, as makeup artist Doniella Davy brought new attention to facial glitter and color experimentation.
“Euphoria” has helped brands like clothing brand I.Am.Gia explode and brought Davy with his own, soon to be launched makeup line. But it also generated a buzz that proved more pervasive than shows like “Emily in Paris” and the reboot of “Gossip Girl,” shows that were a little more directly fashion-oriented. With its style success, “Euphoria” bolsters its fashion chops. Since its second season, the series’ style has played more with high-end fashion. Its first episode alone featured characters from Prada, Miu Miu, Jean Paul Gaultier and Amina Muaddi.
Outside of the show, young cast members on “Euphoria” are attracting attention from the fashion industry and fashion media, landing a growing number of brand ambassadors, collaborations and campaigns. , as well as magazine and broadcast covers. The deals affect the entire cast, from Zendaya’s relationships with Valentino, Lancôme and Bulgari and Hunter Schafer’s Prada partnership, to Barbie Ferreira becoming the face of YSL Beauty. Even rookie Euphoria actors are in the spotlight. Ex-adult film star Chloe Cherry and Angus Cloud’s busking actors have been touted as fashion week staples.
Typically, luxury brands that avoid conflict buy the cast of the edgy show — whose subject matter includes drug addiction, sexual assault and abortion — because the payoff is worth it. The “Euphoria” effect is an undeniable cultural force. But it’s not just about the show: the fashion brands’ investment in the show demonstrates their belief that these actors will be the fashion brokers of tomorrow and will continue to create an impact even after the show is over.
“[Brands] are looking for…that are going to have long-term stickiness,” said Brian Phillips, brand expert and former creative director of Garage magazine. “What you get with these actors is really compelling on and off camera.”
Of course, it helps that “they’re all incredibly hot,” Phillips added.
The “It” Factor
The “Euphoria” cast found themselves in high demand for everything from front-row seats at fashion shows to starring roles in campaigns with major brands.
Casting director Jennifer Venditti’s unconventional approach contributed to the cast’s relatability and leverage. Courtney Worthman, executive vice president of brand and agency partnerships at celebrity marketing agency Burns Entertainment, speculates that Venditti’s experience casting models has helped her spot talent that makes an impact. editorial, not just on screen.
Some of the actors had already dabbled in fashion before the show premiered: Hunter Schafer walked for big names like Dior, Miu Miu and Rick Owens, while Barbie Ferreira made her modeling debut for American Apparel. Most notably, the “Euphoria” cast represents a variety of body types, sexual orientations, identities, and racial backgrounds — often a rarity on TV, especially in American high school drama.
From its pilot episode, the series – with costume designer Heidi Bivens at the helm – pushed the boundaries of fashion and beauty, and tied the two intimately to the story. Character development can be traced in everything from the characters’ clothes to their nail and skin care routines. Sydney Sweeney’s character, Cassie, descends into paranoia, scarred by her intense 4 a.m. beauty routine and dresses up in drastically different looks to catch the eye of her best friend’s ex-boyfriend; the style of Hunter Schafer’s character, Jules, darkens as his relationship with Zendaya’s Rue intensifies.
Those details helped make the fashion in “Euphoria” more compelling than other shows, which lean toward “fashion for fashion’s sake,” like “Emily in Paris,” Worthman said.
“Euphoria” speaks to the zeitgeist at a time when brands have recognized the buying power of Gen-Z and are looking to capture it. The show is indicative of their values, such as prioritizing diversity and representation, Worthman said.
“If you’re not marketing to Gen-Z, you’re dying,” Worthman said.
With all that attention, actors have been able to be picky about partnerships, play the long game and target high-caliber affiliations, said Worthman, who added that when she worked with Sydney Sweeney a few years ago on a Fossil campaign, his team already had their sights set on bigger brands.
Going forward, Worthman is very excited to see what awaits Angus Cloud. He proved his star power during fashion week, when he generated $3.4 million in media impact value (MIV) for Coach after sitting in the front row, according to LaunchMetrics. He has just been named the new face of Polo by Ralph Lauren fragrances.
For the entire “Euphoria” cast, their fashion influence is just beginning — the drama was renewed for a third season on Feb. 4.