Legendary Hollywood Designer Ray Aghayan Dies at 83

10/13/2011 at 10:30 AM ET

Ray AghayanCharley Gallay/Getty

Ray Aghayan, whose unmistakable design touch was featured on such stars as Judy Garland, Lucille Ball and Lauren Bacall, died Monday at the age of 83, it has been confirmed to PEOPLE. Cause of death was not announced.

Born in Tehran, Iran, Aghayan moved to Los Angeles while in high school and first tried acting, directing and producing before turning to costumes. He was eventually successful in convincing the Television Academy to recognize costume design at the Emmys — and, in 1967, won the first-ever Emmy Award for Costume Design for Alice Through the Looking Glass, an honor he shared with his onetime assistant, Bob Mackie.

The two became life partners, and Mackie survives Aghayan.

Aghayan’s three Oscar nominations were for Gaily Gaily (1969), and, with Mackie, Lady Sings the Blues (1972), starring Diana Ross, and Funny Lady (1975), with Barbra Streisand, who wore 40 different costumes in the musical.

As quoted by the Archive of American Television, Aghayan once said, “I think an excellent costume design is that which serves its purpose to the best possible degree. Gives the actor the character. Helps the actor grow into that human being … it helps the audience to be able to look at that and know what the hell it is they’re looking at. That is the best costume. When it really serves as that complete thing that gives you all the information you need to have.”

–Stephen M. Silverman

FILED UNDER: Designers

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Showing 4 comments

Kelli on

Wow, that was an interesting article about an interesting guy. So sorry to hear that he’s passed!

Gary Lee Smith on

Ray Aghayan was a legendary costume designer, the likes of whom we will never see again. He replaced Edith Head as the Costume Designer on “The Judy Garland Show” in 1963 and went on to create some of the star’s signature styles. He designed the gowns for the hostesses of The Academy Awards show up to the past few years. My condolences to his life partner Bob Mackie. You two were the best!

sandy on

It’s nice for this man to get recognized for all his beautiful clothes design – worn by the stars on t.v. and the big screen.

Costume Designer Ray Aghayan Dies - 2011 STYLE – 2011 STYLE on

[...] dress engineer Ray Aghayan has passed divided during a age of 83, withdrawal behind his longtime partner (and former assistant), conform engineer Bob Mackie, People [...]

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