Irene Sharaff

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Irene Sharaff
Born(1910-01-23)January 23, 1910
DiedAugust 10, 1993(1993-08-10) (aged 83)
Alma materNew York School of Fine and Applied Arts
Académie de la Grande Chaumière
Partner(s)Mai-Mai Sze

Irene Sharaff (January 23, 1910 – August 10, 1993) was an American costume designer for stage and screen. Her work earned her five Academy Awards and a Tony Award.


Sharaff was born in Boston and studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, the Art Students League of New York, and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.


Design for Barbra Streisand in Hello, Dolly! (1969)

After working as a fashion illustrator in her youth, Sharaff turned to set and costume design. Her debut production was the 1931 Broadway production of Alice in Wonderland, starring Eva Le Gallienne. Her use of silks from Thailand for The King and I (1951) created a trend in fashion and interior decoration.[1]

Sharaff's work was featured in the movies West Side Story (Academy Award, 1961), Cleopatra (Academy Award, 1963), Meet Me in St. Louis, Hello, Dolly!, Mommie Dearest, The Other Side of Midnight, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Academy Award, 1966), Guys and Dolls, The Best Years of Our Lives, The King and I (Academy Award, 1956), An American in Paris (Academy Award, 1951), Funny Girl and Porgy and Bess.

She also designed sets and costumes for American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and contributed illustrations to fashion magazine's such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Among her Broadway design credits are Idiot's Delight, Lady in the Dark, As Thousands Cheer, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Flower Drum Song, and Jerome Robbins' Broadway.

The TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award was named for Sharaff. She was its first recipient in 1993. The award is now bestowed annually to a costume designer who, over the course of his or her career, has achieved great distinction and mastery of the art in theatre, film, opera or dance.[2][3]


Irene Sharaff died in New York City of congestive heart failure, complicated by emphysema, at the age of 83.[1] Sharaff bequeathed her collection of books, along with that of her partner, Mai-Mai Sze, to the New York Society Library.[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Royal robe design for Yul Brynner in The King and I (1956), for which Sharaff won an Oscar.
Headdress for Elizabeth Taylor in the title role of Cleopatra (1963), which won another Oscar for Sharaff.


  1. ^ a b Howe, Marvine. "Irene Sharaff, Designer, 83, Dies; Costumes Won Tony and Oscars". The New York Times, August 17, 1993
  2. ^ Hetrick, Adam.Irene Sharaff Awards to Honor Robin Wagner and Lewis Brown" Archived 2011-02-24 at the Wayback Machine, February 22, 2011
  3. ^ Sharaff Award Archived 2010-12-18 at the Wayback Machine, accessed February 22, 2011
  4. ^ "Sharaff-Sze Collection | New York Society Library". Retrieved 2016-11-02.


  • Sharaff, Irene. Broadway and Hollywood: Costumes Designed by Irene Sharaff, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co (1976)

External links[edit]