Why ‘Euphoria’ has been ‘the best experience’ costume designer Heidi Bivens has ever had [Exclusive Video Interview]

Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson often has a message for costume designer Heidi Bivens in his scripts: “Heidi, do your thing.” It’s a simple note that says a lot about how much he trusts the three-time Emmy nominee, which makes her “really emo” just thinking about it.

“Just the the trust that I’ve had from not only Sam and the producers, but the cast as well has been the biggest gift,” Bivens tells Gold Derby at our Meet the Experts: Costume Designers panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). “And it has enabled me to be able to, I think, be at my best and to not second-guess myself. Just throughout the whole process, the collaboration has been such a joy. It’s really been the best experience I’ve had so far in costumes.”

For Season 1, Bivens was “kind of method” in her approach, outfitting the teens of East Highland in affordable clothing based on their socioeconomic backgrounds. “I think I was really careful because I didn’t want the audience to call out details that they thought were unrealistic and pull them out of the story,” she explains. “But then when I saw the reaction of Season 1, which was a surprise to me, overall, that the audience was so interested in the clothes and [they were] DMing me and messaging me and asking me what every single little detail was. I realized I had an opportunity to push the creative.”

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After working on on the two “Euphoria” specials in 2020, Bivens leaned more into fantasy for Season 2, selecting high-end designer brands that an average teenager definitely cannot afford. She credits the scripts, which Levinson rewrote during lockdown, for giving her the leeway to explore more looks and styles. “So much of that had to do with the scripts that came in and the style that I knew we were going to be shooting in, which was creating a world that sort of is existing between reality and like a subconscious reality of the characters’ flashbacks, memory, fantasy,” she says. “There’s so much woven in, especially with the later episodes of the season, when we get into the play with Lexi (Maude Apatow), stuff becomes really unclear whether we’re in reality or whose reality, so that gave me a huge amount of freedom to be able to just kind of go with my gut.”

While the changes and higher price tags might seem jarring at first, Bivens notes that teens and young adults are often trying to find and express themselves through clothing. And even if they can’t afford pricier items, they might try to replicate them, DIY-style. “I remember when I was in high school, the way that I would be inspired by runway fashion, but not be able to afford it, and then go out and through thrifting able to put together looks that sort of resembled what I would see in magazines and on runway,” Bivens recalls. “So there’s that aspect, and then just also, I think when you’re that age, you’re you are trying often trying to figure out what your style is, and, and who you are, and who you want to be and experimenting.”

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