Martin Greenfield, Tailor to Sinatra, Obama, Trump and Shaq, Dies at 95

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He dressed six presidents, coached designers and made thousands of suits for TV shows and movies. But his beginnings were dismal: He learned to sew at Auschwitz.

Defying boundaries of taste and time, Martin Greenfield made suits for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the gangster Meyer Lansky, Leonardo DiCaprio and LeBron James. Men skilled in the arts of power projection — along with fashion writers and designers — considered him the nation’s greatest men’s tailor.

For years, none of them knew the origins of his expertise: a beating in Auschwitz.

As a teenager, Mr. Greenfield was Maximilian Grünfeld, a skinny Jewish prisoner whose job was to wash the clothes of Nazi guards at the concentration camp. In the laundry room one day, he accidentally ripped the collar of a guard’s shirt. The man whipped Max in response, then hurled the garment back at the boy.

After a fellow prisoner taught Max how to sew, he mended the collar, but then decided to keep the shirt, sliding it under the striped shirt of his prison uniform.

The garment transformed his life. Other prisoners thought it signified that Max enjoyed special privileges. Guards allowed him to roam around the grounds of Auschwitz, and when he worked at a hospital kitchen, they assumed that he was authorized to take extra food.

Mr. Greenfield, in the middle of the second row, found temporary safe harbor in an unidentified camp for displaced persons in 1947, the year he emigrated to the United States as a refugee. via Greenfield family

Max ripped another guard’s uniform. This time, it was deliberate. He was creating a clandestine wardrobe that would help him survive the Holocaust.

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