Euphoria’s Costume Designer “Tried to Be Aware of What Is Heteronormative” When Dressing Rue
Heidi Bivens tells InStyle about the meaning behind the outfits from the hit HBO show.
What do you get when you cast a former Disney star in a show that’s filled with drugs, sex, and intense teenage drama? Something that’s equally terrifying as it is addicting. We’re talking about HBO's Euphoria, which stars the talented Zendaya alongside the likes of Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney, and Maude Apatow (just to name a few). It’s real and raw in every sense of the word, but aside from the it’s-scary-because-it-happens storylines, we find ourselves obsessing over the outfits each and every episode.
There was Kat’s transformation from background BFF to badass dominatrix; Maddy’s full wardrobe of crop tops and revealing cutouts; and Rue’s overall laid-back vibe, which keeps us searching for similar Bermuda shorts and button-downs. All of it comes from the brain of Heidi Bivens, Euphoria’s skilled costume designer, who previously worked on films such as Spring Breakers and Mid90s.
“When I’m working on costumes for a project, I spend a lot of time trying to mentally occupy the world of the story,” she exclusively reveals to InStyle over email. “I create a filter that all my ideas run through — a list of questions I ask myself about where each character gets their clothes, what colors they gravitate towards, what music they listen to, and how important things like comfort and style are to them.”
That type of attention to detail is definitely noticeable on-screen, and each character has a distinct signature style. Ahead, Bivens lets us in on the work that went behind some of Euphoria's best looks, including where she draws inspiration and the messages she's trying to send.
On Rue’s overall style:
“While designing the show, I’ve really tried to be aware of what is heteronormative and not fall into stereotypes of what is considered traditionally masculine and feminine. Rue is a character who likes to be comfortable and while she has a distinct personal style, it comes naturally to her. She has been consistent with her style since she was old enough to dress herself; she is clear in her mind about what she likes.”
On whether or not her outfits reflect her mental state:
“Not really, except for dream states or scenes which reflect her inner-state, like the scene in classroom where Rue is describing the different kinds of ‘dick pics’ one might receive while wearing a burgundy, maroon-colored jumpsuit. It’s like a uniform, almost military in style, as she’s leading the classroom with air of authority.”
On Jules dressing like Sailor Moon:
“I definitely thought of anime in general when I first started coming up with the looks that we first see Jules in. But then, as the season progresses, she starts to dress more for herself and less cutesy-femme for boys and men’s attention. I try to glean inspiration from enough different directions and references that what I come up with isn’t too derivative of any one person, place, or thing.”
On that Kappa windbreaker that made an appearance on the show:
“I found it at a thrift store and loved the green and blue color combo. It’s a vintage piece that Jules could have found at a thrift store as well, and she would have bought without any real idea that it is a soccer brand.”
On Maddy’s sexy carnival look:
“I wanted to come up with a look that did everything it needed to do on first glance. Maddy is confident, but Nate tells her she looks like a ‘hooker’ and to go home and change. He tries to shame her, but she doesn’t let him and is empowered anyway. Her style in general is one that is very polished, put-together, and meditative — she spends time working on her looks. When we see her in episode five looking disheveled, that is a direct reflection of her mental state. But in general, she sees herself as queen bee.”
On Kat’s style transformation:
“In the beginning of the season, Kat wears a lot of vintage and was inspired by Thora Birch’s character in Ghost World. When she starts coming into her own and feels empowered, she starts to wear latex and leather, a direct indication of her interest in BDSM.”
On teen movies that inspired the costume choices:
“Maybe somewhere in my subconscious is some early Gregg Araki films, but in general, all my references printed on the wall of the costume office were modern pictures of teens today. Instagram is a goldmine for current style references and inspiration.”
On the outfits to keep an eye out for:
“The Winter Formal in episode seven has some iconic looks!”