Advertisement

Martin Greenfield: Tailor who survived Auschwitz and dressed presidents dies

Martin Greenfield in his office in 2012
Martin Greenfield became one of the best known tailors in the United States

An Auschwitz survivor who went on to become a tailor for clients including six US presidents, Frank Sinatra and Leonardo DiCaprio has died aged 95.

As a teenager, Martin Greenfield was imprisoned at the concentration camp where he washed the guards' clothes.

After he was beaten for accidentally ripping a shirt, a fellow prisoner taught him to sew.

In 1945, at the age of 16, he was freed. He boarded a ship to New York with just $10 in his pocket.

He later became arguably the best men's tailor in the United States.

Born Maximilian Grunfeld to a Jewish family from a part of Czechoslovakia that is now in Ukraine, he was sent to Auschwitz as a teenager.

Mending the shirt opened up a new world for him. He wore it underneath his uniform, and found he was able to move more freely because it was mistakenly thought to signify special privileges.

"The day I first wore that shirt was the day I learned clothes possess power," he wrote in his memoir Measure of a Man: From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents' Tailor.

At the end of World War Two, Greenfield travelled to the US and found a job at a Brooklyn clothing factory.

Three decades later he bought the factory, naming it after himself.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby
Greenfield's suits have been worn in many movies - including by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby...
Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker
... and by Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: U.S. President Barack Obama approaches the podium to make a statement at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House August 28, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Greenfield made this tan suit for Barack Obama in 2014
Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire
And Steve Buscemi wore a Greenfield number in Boardwalk Empire - the tailor made more than 600 suits for 173 characters in the series

Greenfield became one of the most renowned tailors in America, dressing six presidents including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

He also became the go-to for some of the biggest names in sport and showbiz, including Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Denzel Washington and Kobe Bryant.

He eventually passed the company on to two of his sons, whom he had with his wife Arlene, who survives him.

In an Instagram tribute, his sons wrote: "Martin Greenfield survived the atrocities of the Holocaust with his humanity intact, living his life delighted to meet everyone he encountered with his infectious smile."

Brooklyn, New York - October 10, 2012: The walls of Martin Greenfield's office are lined with photos and letters from past and current high profile clientele.
The walls of Martin Greenfield's office - lined with photos and letters from presidents and film stars