MARTIN GREENFIELD holds a copy of his autobiography ‘Measure of a Man’: ‘God has a brilliant sense of humor.’. (photo credit:YOSSI ALONI)
by Mordechai Chaimovitch
Greenfield left notes with suggestions in the suit pockets of Eisenhower, sewed a bulletproof vest for Gerald Ford, searched through the private wardrobe of Clinton and prevented the Obama girls from making jokes at the expense of their father.
NEW YORK – The 14-year-old stood in the laundry and brushed the shirt of the SS officer; brushed it so frantically that he tore the collar. He can’t remember the exact words, only the beating. After his back had been flogged to a bleeding pulp, the officer flung the torn shirt in his face. Another prisoner taught him to sew up the shirt and he wore it under his striped prison uniform. From that day the SS treated him differently. He had become “someone” who should not be killed. After all one of them had “donated” his shirt.
“From that day I learned that clothing is power,” says Martin Greenfield, “clothes not only make the man but can also save his life.”
This is the story of the turning upside down of a life, the story of a person who for the first time ever held a needle in Auschwitz and became tailor to presidents of the United States. Maximilian Grunfeld, as he was then, would surely have preferred to serve an apprenticeship in Milan or Paris and not between the crematoria and railheads.
Nevertheless he feels some sort of gratitude to Auschwitz. The death camp marked the beginning of the rest of his life.
The torn shirt of a pitiless SS officer helped “this Jew” as he describes himself, to create the best-known atelier of men’s tailoring in the United States.
Everyone has revealed the secrets of their figure to Martin Greenfield, hoping that he will be able to rectify minor faults of creation.
Not only presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but also Vice-President Joe Biden, secretary of state Colin Powell, secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, basketball stars Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neill, world champion heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield and businessman Donald Trump. Among the estimated 130 movie stars who have been dressed by him are Paul Newman, Edward G. Robinson, Sammy Davis Junior, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino and Ben Affleck. His suits have featured in such movies as Arthur, The Great Gatsby, Argo and Scent of a Woman. In addition he has made suits for Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israel ambassador to the US, Michael Oren.
“I make sure that all Israel’s ambassadors to the US look their best,” he tells me.
But Martin Greenfield Clothiers is not to be found among the glitterati of Manhattan.