“You can acquire chic and elegance, but style itself is a rare thing”.
If you know the author of these words then you probably are aware of her popularity as well.
Irene Sharaff is one of the worldwide famous costume designers. She was born in the USA and was usually referred as a creative mind behind costumes. She created stylish and fashionable designs for about 60 stage productions. Irene Sharaff nominated for 15 Academy Awards and for the designs for ‘An American in Paris’ (1951), ‘The King and I’ (1956), ‘West Side Story’ (1961), ‘Cleopatra’ (1963) and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ (1966) she won 5 of the Academy Awards. Besides, in 1952 Irene Sharaff won a Tony Award for the “The King and I”.
However, not everybody is aware of her Armenian roots: Irene Sharaff is the great-aunt of famous Armenian actor Levon Sharafyan and Armenian costume designer Mikael Sharafyan. Mikael is an outstanding designer won the Best Actor award at the Glendale International Film Festival for the lead role in “The Bride from Vegas”.
He one said that he had to try to become a designer as he was sure that acting was not a good idea for him. But after his father, actor Levon Sharafyan forced him to take a chance; Mikael saw no practical alternative but to give it a try. And it turned out to be a success. The film was presented at the Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto, the Arpa Film Festival in Los Angeles, as well as the Glendale International Film Festival.
When Amid the first started to massacre the Armenian population in 1914-1915 in the Ottoman Empire, the Sharafyans were among the first victims of that inhuman act.
In one of his interviews Mikael stated that they had always remained in touch with Sharaff and other members of the family. “In the 1990s, Armenia lived through dire times, and we lost contact with her for several years. But we knew we were related and always followed her achievements … We still have relatives in California. Some 10 years ago, we learnt about the daughter of Sharaff’s sister who sent her personal letters and pictures to us, which was very nice, because we kind of managed to make up for lost time. When we moved to the United States, it was unfortunately too late to get in touch with the remaining part of our family.”
Speaking about his great-aunt, Mikael said: “I think her Armenian roots can be seen even on her facial features”.
Today, the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award is named after the outstanding costume designer, first presented to her in 1993. Irene Sharaff obviously has contributed a lot to the fashion World and her name will always be on the eminence of it.
Made by Melanya Hovhannisyan