November 28, 2022

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Fashion come on you

Are fictional characters from our favourite TV shows the new fashion and beauty influencers?

For decades, pop-culture trends have influenced fashion and beauty. Music, film and television are a source of inspiration and escapism, and we often seek to emulate our favourite characters. It’s not uncommon for a breakout television star to spark a niche style craze. Remember when Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf originated the preppy, schoolgirl headband-wearing luxury aesthetic? Or perhaps you’re a Friends fan and requested The Rachel haircut at the peak of her stardom? In 2022, there’s an entirely new genre of cult streaming-service originals redefining the pop-culture zeitgeist, many of which use fashion and beauty as a focal point within their storylines.

Take Euphoria’s astronomical Y2K aesthetic. The series has a contemporary take on early 2000s fashion and beauty, symbolising the “experimental spirit of its Gen Z fanbase,” says fashion historian Darnell-Jamal Lisby. According to Darnell-Jamal, Gen Z have unabashed confidence to be authentic, from sexuality to gender identity and sense of style. “They’re not afraid to be provocative,” he says. Fan favourite Maddy Perez, played by Alexa Demie, has one of the most recognisable and replicated aesthetics on TV. The signature ‘Maddy Wing’, a razor-sharp flick of black liquid liner, represents her quick wit and cutting insults. She’s also known for her affinity for rhinestones. Her bedazzled eyelids became one of the most popular beauty looks from Season 1 and the hashtag #maddyperez garnered over seven billion views on TikTok.

But there’s more to Maddy’s eccentric makeup than meets the eye. According to the show’s lead makeup artist Doniella Davy, she uses makeup as “elaborate armour”, underneath which “she feels the pain of crushed childhood dreams and a psychotic, abusive boyfriend”. Her wardrobe, consisting of crop tops, cut-out silhouettes, twinsets and platform heels, has also been a source of inspiration for brands and infl uenced market trends. According to data from Lyst, Euphoria sparked a 42% increase in searches for ‘cut-out garment’ and an 18% increase for ‘cropped cardigan’ in February 2022.

If Euphoria spurs an early 2000s revival, then Netflix-created Bridgerton transports us back to a bygone era. Set in the Regency era, the show displays distinctive trends in British fashion at the time. Characterised by decadent jewels, Empire-waist gowns, opera gloves and a modern-day mashup of cottagecore and boudoir dressing, Bridgerton depicts a romanticised version of 19th century English aristocracy. “In Bridgerton’s case, I think accurate would be very, very wrong… The show borders on historical fantasy,” says fashion historian Raissa Bretaña.

However, for the show’s legion of fans, accuracy isn’t so much a drawcard as the element of fun and escapism. According to research from Pinterest, Bridgerton has fuelled an interest in fashion pieces previously considered outdated. Terms such as ‘single-pearl earring’ and ‘beaded dresses’ tripled in search volume between January and February 2022 compared to the previous year when Bridgerton had just been released. The show’s iconic hair and makeup looks have also made an impact. Searches for ‘High-bun hairstyle’ grew by 165% whilst ‘space buns’ increased by 100%. Renowned makeup artist Pat McGrath even jumped on the hype by releasing a makeup palette in collaboration with the show, bringing the beauty of the Regency era to the real world – and our shopping carts.

Then there’s the hit show Emily in Paris, which inspired fans to give their wardrobes a Parisian twist. Set in modern-day Paris, the show’s protagonist Emily Cooper’s colourful and extravagant style has resonated with fans. According to e-commerce platform ShopStyle, searches for her signature beret increased by 43% shortly after the first episode was launched, whilst interest in items such as ‘blue-striped sweaters’ (+42%) and ‘gingham blazers’ (+42%) also significantly increased.

Lead makeup artist Aurélie Payen says that for Emily’s look, she draws inspiration from the ’60s, which “represents a society in full mutation,” she says. “It marked the emancipation of the female body, and women were more experimental with ‘daring and sexy makeup’. Emily’s independent, smart character embodies that legacy.”

Like Euphoria and Bridgerton, Emily in Paris puts a contemporary spin on a bygone era, creating an entirely new world for us to explore and get lost. However, it’s not only fashion and beauty in these series that inspire fans. Their fascination may also stem from an authentic connection with these characters. Through the energy they exude, obstacles they overcome and their coming-of-age developments, characters like Maddy Perez, Daphne Basset and Emily Cooper provide a sense of familiarity. We often see ourselves in them, or perhaps the person we wish to be: the strength we strive to have or compassion we seek to emanate. Echoing their signature style is a way for us to uphold these qualities subconsciously. And, perhaps, the next time we look in the mirror, we’ll see the best version of ourselves – both inside and out.

This article was originally published on Glamour July 2022 Beauty Issue. Grab your digital copy, here.