2 years ago
Maurice Dorfman was a true Clapham character. He ran Jeanette Fashions for 60 years, but he bought a lot more to Clapham than clothes.
You’ve probably walked past 22 Clapham High Street without much thought as to what it is. Lauded as an ‘unsung hero’, Maurice’s incredible life story has been documented and curated into an exhibition ‘Behind the Shop Facade’ which you’ll be able to go and see throughout April at Clapham Library.
So who is this Maurice Dorfman then? He was the only owner of Jeannette Fashions- the longest running traditional shop we have on the High Street. But it’s his story prior to the opening of his store this is so interesting.
As a Russian Jew, his family needed to escape their native home and found themselves in London in 1902. Whilst he stayed in the East End for over 40 years, he eventually migrated down to South London where he opened his traditional haberdashery shop in the 1950s. He ran Jeannette Fashions until the end of the 20th Century.
The tailoring ran in his blood- both his parents and grandfather were in the haberdashery business.
But what really made him a Clapham legend was his incredible character. Playful, fun and someone who enjoyed all of lives pleasures (even if that included cycling around his store), he quickly became beloved by his locals. His life wasn’t without challenge. He suffered from bouts of cancer, had several tricky family dynamics all against the backdrop of an anti-Semitic London.
Maurice Dorfman died in early 2020 aged 87 which ended the 6 iconic decades of Jeannette Fashions trading. Though Maurice is no longer walking the streets of Clapham with his infectiously cheery character, his memory is certainly still alive.