Ray Aghayan: Hollywood’s Leading Costume Designer from a Family of Armenian Tailors

For half a century, Gourgen “Ray” Aghayan, who was considered Hollywood’s leading costume designer, was born in Tehran in 1928 into a family of Armenian court tailors.

From an early age, Aghayan learned the art of tailoring from his mother and senior family members. By the age of fourteen, he was already designing mourning attire for the first wife of Iranian Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

The Armenian costume designer rose to Hollywood fame thanks to the 1967 musical “Doctor Dolittle.” Almost all the costumes of the film’s characters were conceived and sewn by Aghayan.

A high point in the designer’s career of Armenian origin was the film “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (1966). The vibrant and unconventional costumes were created by Aghayan in collaboration with designer Bob Mackie. This work in the film brought Aghayan and Mackie an Emmy Award in 1967.

At various times in his life, Aghayan was the personal designer for legendary Barbara Streisand, singer Diana Ross, and British actress and writer Julie Andrews.

Ray also designed costumes for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

The designer has repeatedly served as the costume director for the Oscars, has been a member of the jury of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in different years, and has also worked as a producer for American soap operas.

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