ON SET: DONIELLA DAVY + EUPHORIA

How did you come to work on Euphoria?
I designed the makeup for a film called Under the Silver Lake, starring Andrew Garfield, and directed by David Robert Mitchell. The film was put out by the amazing A24, who are also very much responsible for bringing Euphoria to life, along with HBO. Based on my work on that film, A24 brought me in to interview with Sam Levinson, who was the writer, showrunner and director of the project. I also met with the director of the pilot, Augustine Frizzell.

The makeup on Euphoria is so experimental, how did you approach the design process?
I got most of my inspiration from Gen Z and experimental editorial makeup on Instagram, but I also drew from the late 1960s, taking inspiration from Twiggy, Nina Simone’s rhinestone eyebrow looks, as well 1970s Glam Rock moments. Gen Z is completely redefining what makeup can and should be used to do, by embracing a total freedom in expression and defying beauty and makeup norms.

Aside from designing the Euphoria makeup to be visually captivating and help propel the various storylines forward, I was encouraged by Sam to push through existing makeup norms. We wanted to introduce a new makeup language; a way of transcending mainstream archetypes and stereotypes and embracing a more fluid, boundary-pushing mode of self-expression. Since this is already happening out
there in the world, it was my mission to absorb it all, create my own version of it based on my aesthetic as an artist, and then bring it to Euphoria. There it would eventually reach a wide and diverse audience; an audience where people who already express themselves through Euphoria-like makeup will feel represented, and where others will feel inspired to try things they didn’t previously feel like they could. In other words, I aim to spread the word that we should all feel free to use makeup however we damn well please.

How does the makeup help tell the story?
Makeup represents not only who we are, but also who we feel like being on any given day, who we need to be that day for our own emotional survival, or who we aspire to be.
Each makeup-wearing character has an intentional color palette and style meant to propel their storylines and character arcs forward. Furthermore, each and every
makeup look has a conscious emotional meaning behind it. Take the Carnival looks in episode four for example. I made Rue’s (Zendaya) eyes dark with smudged black eyeliner and added upside down triangular shapes of gold glitter under her eyes because I wanted to allude to the devastation and eartache that she experiences at the end of the previous episode. Jules’ (Hunter Schafer) Carnival makeup is gentle
pastel colors and delicate invisible periwinkle glitter that sparkles only in certain light because she is nervous and excited to meet who she believes is the boy she’s been
connecting with online. Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) eyeliner is sharp as a knife and lined with gems, which hints at the rage that Nate (Jacob Elordi) stirs up in her at the Carnival.

Must-have products on set?
My team and I are on the constant hunt for high-pigmented, neon, pastel, iridescent or chrome eyeshadows and liners. Some hero products we used were: ColourPop eyeshadow palettes, Stila liquid shimmer eyeshadows, Suva Beauty Hydra liners, Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliners, MAKE UP FOR EVER longwear cream eyeliners in the tube, Lemonhead gel glitter, Vapor Beauty cream blush sticks, Glossier Boy Brow and
Haloscope, Koh Gen Doh, Becca and MAC Face & Body foundations and concealers, and Botnia skincare.

How large was your makeup department?
I had Kirsten Coleman as my assistant department head and Tara Lang-Shah as my third; both of whom contributed to the success of the makeup as a whole, through their
innovative and immaculate attention to detail. Kirsten has been with me since the pilot, and has stood behind my vision and enhanced it with her own artistry since the
beginning.

What was your biggest challenge on this show?
Euphoria was the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on, and also with the biggest budget, highest stakes and longest schedule. It was only my second time working on a TV show. Designing all the characters’ looks to have growth and evolution, and then keeping track of all these looks while filming multiple episodes at once was a real brain scramble. Staying inspired was an issue sometimes, especially during the height of my exhaustion. My brain would go numb with all the makeups I was looking at and drawing inspiration from (on Instagram) to the point where nothing I looked at felt cool anymore. I had to keep my creative brain thriving, but as a department head I also had to constantly think about the logistical behind-the-scenes side of everything that is going on in my department. Luckily, I had a strong and capable team, who truly had my back.

Do you have any favorite looks from this season?
I’m really proud of the Halloween looks in episode six, particularly Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) and Jules’ looks, and all girls’ Winter Formal looks in the final episode, as well as two special looks that Maddy and Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) have in the final episode — Maddy’s cheerleading moment and Cassie’s ice-skating moment. But there were honestly so many great moments. It was a dream project.

Words Shannon Levy
Photos Eddy Chen/HBO