Before you ask, no, Pat McGrath has never seen Euphoria. After seeing the eye makeup she created for Anna Sui’s Spring 2020 show, some may assume that the iconic makeup artist has. The abstract white liner layered over yellow and pink eye shadows recalls looks that Jules wore during the HBO show’s breakout first season.
“But I know it,” McGrath told a group of beauty editors, including myself, before the show after one of us told her that the makeup reminded her of Euphoria and asked if she’s seen it. “I’ve seen the [looks]. It’s really just that whole fresh take on do-it-yourself….You know that’s what we love about makeup, right? That freedom, that fun, and that expression.”
The Anna Sui look is one of several that people were quick to label as “Euphoria makeup” during New York Fashion Week. Chromat and Helmut Lang did neon wings worthy of Maddy. Jason Wu and Christian Siriano featured watercolor eyes well-suited for Jules. Nicola Dall’Asen, Allure‘s digital staff writer, even heard the show’s name thrown around several times while making her own backstage rounds.
I was most shocked when the reference was made at Anna Sui, though. To put it simply, Pat McGrath invented Euphoria makeup. Her billion-dollar empire is built on bold looks that set trends and make people rethink how they should approach makeup. Season after season, I look forward to what she’ll come up with and take inspiration from the graphic lines and glitter she puts on the runway, particularly at Anna Sui.
Crediting Euphoria for her look and other colorful looks at NYFW undermines the work she and other makeup artists have been doing for decades. And this is just in the context of Fashion Week. I could go on and on about the musicians, like Sunmi, Lizzo, Rico Nasty, Hayley Williams, and Lady Gaga, who have based their on-stage aesthetics around what we now call Euphoria makeup. Of course, drag queens, hundreds of artists on Instagram, and countless others in the LGBTQIA+ community deserve to be acknowledged in this conversation, too.
Not every technicolor look you see right now is inspired by the show — mine included. I have to bite my tongue every time a stranger sees the neon lines on my face or the crystals glued around my eyes and says, “Someone’s been watching Euphoria.” None of this happened overnight, let alone in the past couple months since the pilot aired.
“We’ve been doing colors for some years now. We always do them,” McGrath pointed out after an editor noted that we are seeing a lot of fun colors this season. McGrath recalled the shocking cobalt blue shadow she literally created for the Anna Sui Fall 2017 show. I’ll also direct you toward the lines of glitter she painted down models’ eye for the designer’s spring/summer 2018 show and the dreamy rainbow shadow for Spring 2019.
Bold, experimental makeup has been a constant part of NYFW, and it will continue to be for years to come, whether Euphoria is on air or not. The only difference is the show is helping normalize this take on beauty at the moment and making people more inclined than ever to experiment with makeup. Euphoria‘s cultural impact is undeniable.
Although Euphoria‘s makeup team didn’t invent neon, rhinestone, and abstract makeup, its head makeup artist Doniella Davy has done an amazing job putting fun, unconventional makeup on stage that is more accessible than Fashion Week. She’s shown through Euphoria‘s dynamic cast that makeup is a powerful means of self-expression, and that everyone can explore its emotive abilities. Davy has proven that eye makeup can share who you are with the world with a two-second glance.
Most of all, the TV show has given personalities to the makeup that McGrath pioneered. Euphoria has brought McGrath’s signature looks to life in a way beyond models walking down a runway. The show also put statement makeup in the context of hyperrealistic teens to make it seem more relatable. If a teen like Jules or Maddy can wake up every morning and execute these kinds of looks before school starts, then so can I, right?
With Zendaya, Hunter Schaffer, and Barbie Ferrera’s examples, people feel more inspired and confident than ever spackling their lids with the sparkliest, most vibrant beauty products they can find. And it’s so fucking cool to see my Instagram Explore page filled with interpretations of their looks from the show because of that. One TV show with only eight episodes did that.
I’ll go back to how McGrath ended her backstage interview with, though. “We’re always in a way doing crazy things. It’s also just great to see the world enjoying alternative makeup and embracing it like something new,” she said. “Isn’t that major?” It sure is.