Considering she’s best known for working on HBO smash hit Euphoria, Heidi Bivens’ mantra is perfectly fitting. “Follow your bliss,” she tells THE FACE. She doesn’t, though, mean getting high in a church, hooking up with the shop assistant, robbing an off-licence, or any of the other wild chaos that takes place in the TV show. Instead, she’s referring to the need to trust your instincts. “Do what you feel passionate about,” she says. “Chances are, everything else is going to fall in line.”
We’re chatting ahead of the first event for Inside Job, a new events series from new luxury pioneers FLANNELS and THE FACE, designed to give you the tools to break down barriers and level up in your own creative sphere. Taking place on 27th April at FLANNELS X on Oxford Street (toasted with a glass of Moët and Chandon), Bivens will discuss the art of costume design and why we need to recognise below-the-line creative roles. Here’s the best bit: you lot are all invited, so sign up now.
Bivens will be joined by two experts offering intelligent intel on what it’s like to work in fashion. The first guest is standout stylist Leah Abbot, known for dressing the likes of Jorja Smith, Skepta, Celeste and Slowthai. Joining her is Lucy Maguire, the Senior Trends Editor at Vogue Business and an associate lecturer at LCF. It’s also hosted by THE FACE’s very own Digital Director, Brooke McCord.
Bivens will also be on hand to sign copies of her new book with A24 Euphoria Fashion, documenting every look from the hit show through meticulous annotations, exclusive imagery, exceptional essays and, naturally, the odd Twitter meme. If you can’t make it IRL there’s a URL option too: we’ll be streaming the entire event live on TikTok. Plus, there are more events to come so keep both eyes out for more updates.
Ahead of the first instalment of Inside Job, THE FACE caught up with Bivens to hear about her career in costume design so far, following the thread from working on Spring Breakers to getting ready for season three of Euphoria.
It’s wild that Spring Breakers turned ten last week. Did it introduce you to the idea of dressing on-screen teens?
I don’t like to repeat myself, so in preparing for Euphoria I wanted to stay away from those aesthetics so as to not feel repetitive or derivative of Spring Breakers, like not using neon. But there are moments throughout the two seasons that felt on par: Cassie’s swimsuit at her birthday party is like a monokini the girls would have worn in Spring Breakers. It’s impossible for my previous work not to find its way into Euphoria but in general I like to give each project its own look.
Euphoria was hugely influential when it came to sparking new trends…
I think the moment I realised that the show had hit some kind of zeitgeist level was the first Halloween after the first season aired. It was a similar thing that happened right after Spring Breakers. For costume designers, it’s different to being in the fashion world; in the past we haven’t got the recognition. Often, Halloween is a sort of indicator of how the audience reacts to the costumes: so that was a big moment for me. With people being home during the pandemic and watching more television and the content boom, there’s more of an opportunity for costume designers to influence how people dress. It’s exciting for me, because I’m a champion for costume designers and below-the-line artists who often don’t get recognition.
Do you think people are recognising costume designers more now?
Absolutely, I think brands now understand the value of having costumes on camera. For a long time, there was a formula for marketing teams for fashion houses and brands; each season, editorial was extremely important but now celebrity is a means to promote one’s brand. When you think about how celebrities dressed on the red carpet in the ’90s, the majority didn’t have stylists and were wearing clothes that were more pedestrian in a way. I think the culture has shifted; it’s a good time for costume designers because brands are really willing to work with them.
Congratulations on Euphoria Fashion! What do you think the impact will be?
I have to commend A24 for inviting me to do it; they’re so supportive of below-the-line crafts and costumes in general. Hopefully this book causes some reverberation. It’s tricky because when you sign on to do a film or TV project as a costume designer, you’re a gun for hire, so you don’t own the intellectual property, meaning you can’t do a book on your own. Hopefully this sets a precedent and people can say, well, this exists, so it’s much easier for the next one to happen.
It’s really enlightening in terms of showing how many different sources and skills are involved in costume design.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s the fun of it, when you have those Eureka moments. It often happened at the beginning of my search for a costume for a particular scene, but other times I’d be looking for weeks. It’s a really exploratory profession; the cinematographer and director creates a world but you’re tasked with creating something out of nothing; so unless you’re building the costumes, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. With styling, you can go to Vogue and look at the collections and make requests, but with costumes you’re starting from a blank page. That’s the daunting thing.
Which character was the most daunting to dress?
I had a little bit of trouble figuring Cassie out, but then I had an epiphany where I realised that the reason why I couldn’t figure her out is because she can’t figure herself out. Nate was a tricky one for me, because I always wanted to do something more interesting with him, but Sam really wanted me to pull back and just have him be a cisgender jock guy that everybody could get a quick read on. Sometimes part of the process is restraint and not “pulling focus” so that you’re not focused on the outfit but the emotion of the scene.
FLANNELS’ Inside Job project is all about offering tangible advice to future creatives. What do you recommend?
Finding your collaborators is huge, but the best advice I ever got I gave myself: to follow your bliss. Do what you feel passionate about. Chances are, everything else is going to fall in line. I like to think that there’s no such thing as procrastinating: one person’s idea of procrastinating is another person’s divine timing. You have to listen to your gut and be able to persevere and multitask. In industries like filmmaking, television and fashion you have to be able to work on multiple projects at the same time and have balls in the air; you might be in talks for various projects but are not sure what’s going to get greenlit.
Which Euphoria character is most into their luxury labels? Who would shop ‘til they drop in FLANNELS?
I would definitely say Maddie, because she spends a lot of time on planning her looks. She spends the most money on clothes. Also, maybe for season two when Nate’s shopping for Cassie, when he gives her a Barbie makeover. Then also probably Fez: he’s a hypebeast. I didn’t go full on with him, he’s half-dressed most of the time, but he’s presentable and loves being boxfresh. I think for Season Three he could definitely go bigger and be more of a fashion plate.
Maybe we’ll get him a FLANNELS voucher. Thanks, Heidi!