Omar Kiam

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Omar Kiam
Omar Kiam (fashion designer).jpg
Omar Kiam in 1937
Born Alexander Kiam
(1894-07-19)July 19, 1894
Monterrey, Mexico.
Died March 28, 1954(1954-03-28) (aged 59)
New York City, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Costume designer; fashion designer
Awards Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, 1941; Coty Award, 1946

Omar Kiam (1894-1954) was an American fashion designer and costume designer.

Early life[edit]

Born Alexander Kiam in Monterrey, Mexico, to Texan parents, Kiam picked up the nickname Omar at Riverview Preparatory School in Poughkeepsie, New York.[1] He later went to the Poughkeepsie Military Academy in New York.[2] His first job as a designer was producing caps for babies for a department store in Houston.[2] Kiam chose to retain his nickname professionally, as he appreciated the link to Omar Khayyám.[3]

Costume design[edit]

Janet Gaynor, costumed by Kiam, in A Star is Born

Following a stint in Paris as a student, Kiam returned to the United States and opened his studio in New York City, where he produced work for Broadway theatre.[2] Among the theatre productions he costumed were Dinner at Eight, the Robert E. Sherwood play Reunion in Vienna, and the Edward Sheldon and Margaret Ayer Barnes play Dishonored Lady.[4] In 1933 he moved to Hollywood, where he headed the film costume design departments for Sam Goldwyn Productions and United Artists.[2][4] Before leaving Hollywood in 1939, Kiam also worked for David O. Selznick and Hal Roach.[2]

One of Kiam's most notable films was the 1937 film A Star is Born, for which he dressed Janet Gaynor.[1] He collaborated with Irene on Algiers.[4]


Omar Kiam costumed the following films:[4][5]

Fashion design[edit]

Although primarily known as a costume designer Kiam had also run a wholesale fashion design business supplying clothing to shops across the United States before he moved to Hollywood.[6]

After leaving Hollywood, in 1941 Kiam became head designer for the Ben Reig fashion label, a company founded in 1929. Also designing costume jewelry for them from 1948, he worked there until his death in 1954.[7]

Kiam won the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1941, and in 1946, won the Coty Award jointly with Vincent Monte-Sano and Clare Potter.[1] During the early 1950s Liz Claiborne worked for Kiam.[8]

Kiam died 28 March 1954 at the Ritz Tower Hotel in New York.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Mara, Margaret (19 July 1946). "Omar Kiam, Former MGM Designer, gets Fashion Award". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 9. Retrieved 13 March 2015 – via 
  2. ^ a b c d e Bailey, Margaret J. (1988). Those glorious glamour years : Classic Hollywood costume design of the 1930's. London: Columbus. ISBN 9780862878832. 
  3. ^ Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins (5th ed.). Jefferson: McFarland & Co., Publishers. p. 261. ISBN 9780786457632. 
  4. ^ a b c d Leese, Elizabeth (1991). Costume design in the movies an illustrated guide to the work of 157 great designers. New York: Dover Publications. p. 66. ISBN 9780486134291. 
  5. ^ Staff writer. "Omar Kiam Filmography". BFI. British Film Institute. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Staff writer (31 March 1934). "Omar Kiam to Design Garbs for Film Stars". The Waco News-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 13 March 2015 – via 
  7. ^ Staff writer. "Ben Reig". Vintage Fashion Guild Label Resource. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Woo, Elaine (28 June 2007). "Liz Claiborne, 78; clothes designer for career women built vast fashion empire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (30 March 1954). "Dress Designer Dies". The Evening Independent. Associated Press. Retrieved 13 March 2015 – via