This excerpt is taken from Euphoria Fashion by Heidi Bivens. This essay, Memes, Moods and Miu Miu Eras, is by Biz Sherbert.
Every Sunday night during the rollout of Euphoria, season two, I lie in my bed and scroll through hot takes of the latest episode. The take-makers call to me like screen sirens, promising to reveal the hidden meaning behind Cassie’s color palette, explaining why it matters that Nate’s only wearing black and navy shirts this season, or asking me to really think about how the fuck Lexi Howard can afford to wear Miu Miu to high school. I watch the TikToks, I read the Tweets, I tap through the stories, and I arrive at next week’s episode equipped with shiny, fragile insights around the symbolism of the costumes on screen. Some of this content stream is chopped and screwed from cast and crew interviews, but it all feels much more urgent and conspiratorial, and honestly on-brand for the Gen Z-ness of it all, when fun is fact-ified and delivered by a random on TikTok, their pupils reflecting the circular glow of a ring light.
The Euphoria costume memes hit even quicker, spawning across social media before the episode credits have time to roll. Even if a meme isn’t specifically about what the characters are wearing, it always is, in a way. A still of Cassie hiding from Maddy in a bathtub wouldn’t be as funny without the contrast between the dingy shower curtain and Cassie’s carefully selected blue ruched mini dress and white patent leather heels. There’s a forever-joke online that real-life teenagers at a real-life American high school would never wear what the make-believe teenagers at “Euphoria High” wear (if they did, they would be dress-coded into oblivion). But rating the overall success of a look on its site-specific wearability feels outdated when a look today is most successful when it can be described simply as a “mood.” A mood is by definition incorporeal, meaning you can channel Cassie’s full-blown school bathroom breakdown in a cornflower country music star dress, when really you’re just feeling a little unhinged and wearing a touch of blue eyeshadow.
This idea, that Euphoria costumes are “unrealistic,” comes up a lot. It’s why the “Euphoria High” meme was so successful: if you watched the show and had ever set foot inside literally any high school, you felt like you were in on the joke. That’s what fuels the online Euphoria takes too – feeling like you’re in on something – if not a joke, then a reference, a meaning, a meaning within a meaning. For example, this year was a Miu Miu year – their pleated micro mini broke the internet as the skirt passed through an infinite loop of editorial sets and influencer shoots. Season two was also Lexi’s Miu Miu year (or semester, at least), a detail noted online as soon as she appeared on screen wearing the brand. There’s that same conspiratorial satisfaction in clocking Lexi’s “Miu Miu era” and knowing what it means to be in one’s Miu Miu era (and knowing what it means that Lexi’s older sister, Cassie, is wearing Miu Miu’s older sister, Prada), or in identifying that Kat’s party dress was made by Mimi Wade, your personal favourite still-kind-of-underground designer for kind-of- weird “It girls.” Knowing where the clothes come from makes the characters feel less realistic, reinforcing what we already know – that teenagers usually don’t loiter in front of their lockers in designer clothes. But it also makes the characters feel more real, because you’ve seen these clothes somewhere in your own world, on your Instagram feed or on the cover of a magazine.