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‘Euphoria’ Is NYFW’s Biggest Beauty Inspiration

The HBO series about Gen Z teens has sparked a beauty revolution on the NYFW runways.

What were American fashion designers doing last summer? Watching “Euphoria” on HBO, if the beauty looks at New York Fashion Week are any indication.

The television drama starring Zendaya depicts oversexed, drug-addled and generally bad-behaving teens in a California suburb, grappling with growing up in the chaotic political and social environment of 2019 — Internet porn, climate change, active shooters in schools, etc. The show is known as much for its shock value as for the experimental beauty looks, led by Doniella Davy, the teenage girls on the show use as outlets for creative and emotional expression — a neon-tinged, gem-encrusted Gen Z version of rave makeup.

Backstage at New York Fashion Week this season, the “Euphoria”-inspired look has thus far been in full effect, with makeup artists sending creative, linear and bright looks down the runways for spring 2020 — from acid green flicks of eye shadow at Ulla Johnson to full-on rhinestone face accessories at Area.

“I am [seeing more makeup] this season, people seem to be more into it,” said Diane Kendal, backstage at Tory Burch. “They’re talking about that show ‘Euphoria.’ It is funny. I have to watch it.”

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Angie Parker, who created a “lady in the desert” eye look complete with white lashes and swipes of white shadow, agreed that makeup looks at New York Fashion Week are becoming more fun, particularly with younger designers. “Makeup has become a lot more experimental in New York than it has perhaps been in a while. People are experimenting a little bit more with colors and it feels a lot more like what’s been happening in Europe.”

It was termed “painterly” backstage at Christian Siriano, where makeup artist Erin Parsons for Maybelline created a hand-smudged bright makeup look for models. The same word was thrown around backstage at Jonathan Cohen, where makeup artist Yuki created used bright pigments on the inner and outer corners of models’ eyes to tie into the collection.

There, the look was paired with clean, healthy-looking skin, courtesy of Deanna Hagan, who was dousing models in 111Skin products backstage. When you amp up skin care, “you have less to correct, so the makeup becomes like an embellishment. So if you look at the girls today, it’s just beautiful skin and then it’s this whimsical eye,” she said.

At Siriano, Parsons noted that the makeup was David Bowie-esque, especially on the male models. To get the look, Parsons added shimmer to Maybelline City Lights colors, and then swept it on the lid and into the crease. “Then, you start dipping into mixed paints,” she noted. “We made a ton of [custom colors] and handed [them] out to everyone,” Parsons said.

Artists blended it onto lids and brow bones using different parts of their hands, instead of brushes.

“[It’s uneven] because I think it feels more painterly organic if you don’t make both eyes the same, but there in the same world,” Parsons said.

“You wouldn’t think this would work but how pretty does that look?” Parsons said.

Several makeup artists were quick to point to “Euphoria” as the cultural touch point that sparked the Gen Z beauty revolution at New York Fashion Week.

“This is what I love about Gen Z and Millennials, is that bringing art into one’s own look is not, ooh, that’s wild. It’s fun, it’s creative and it’s accepted, it’s embraced. That show is gonna continue to have a strong influence,” said Fatima Thomas, the MAC makeup artist keying the Chromat show. “Makeup serves us, we don’t serve it.”

Makeup is particularly poised to serve for spring 2020, as the U.S. presidential election looms closer.

“Makeup trends wane — it comes and goes — and typically, what you’ll see is when we have moments where there is a decent amount of economical, political strife, people get exhausted and eventually they need to just have fun,” said Chantel Miller, MAC senior makeup artist, speaking from Sies Marjan’s backstage. “We tend in fashion, to really see that color run make a comeback when society just needs to take a breath.”

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