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So Long, Chris Georgiou

June 18, 2024
by the gentle author

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Tailor Chris Georgiou (1945-2024) died on 28th May aged seventy-nine. A funeral will be held at the Greek Orthodox Church of St Sophia, Moscow Rd, W2 4LQ this Friday 21st June at 2pm.

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“I’ve worked seven days a week for forty-five years – each morning I come in about half eight and stay until seven o’clock,” tailor Chris Georgiou assured me, “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it.”

I was standing in his tiny tailoring shop situated in one of the last quiet stretches of the Kings Cross Rd. “You don’t want to retire,” Chris advised me, thinking out loud and wielding his enormous shears enthusiastically, “The bank manager round the corner retired and he’s had three heart attacks in three years and he now he takes thirty-five pills a day. He came to see me. ‘Chris, never retire!’ he said. A friend of mine, a tailor who worked from home, he retired but after a couple of years he came to see me, ‘Chris,’ he said, ‘Can I come and help you for a couple of days each week? I don’t want any money, I just need a reason to walk down the road.'”

Chris shook his head at the foolishness of the world as he resumed cutting the cloth and thus I was assured of the unlikelihood of Chris ever retiring. And why should when he had so many devoted long-term customers who appreciate his work?  As I discovered, when a distinguished-looking gentleman came in clutching an armful of striped shirts that matched the one he was wearing and readily admitted he was a customer of fourteen years standing. Thus it was only a brief interview that Chris was able to grant me but, like all his work, it was perfectly tailored.

“I started out to be tailor at twelve years old, to learn this job you have to start early and you need a lot of patience to hold a needle. My mother was a very good dressmaker and she made shirts, that’s where I got it from. In Cyprus, when you finish school at twelve years old, you must choose a trade. I always liked to dress smart, so I said, ‘I’m going to be a tailor.’ I came from a poor family and I couldn’t have gone to college.

So learnt from a tailor in our village of Zodia. First, I learnt to make trousers and then I learnt to make a jacket, and then it was time to change. After that, I went to another place and said, ‘I know how to make jackets.’ I told lies and I got the job, and I started to learn the art of tailoring. Then I came here in 1968, under contract to a maker of leather wear in Farringdon Rd but, after a year, I told my boss I was going off to do tailoring. And I went to several tailors to see how they do it in England and I bought this shop from one of them in 1969, just a year after I arrived. At first, I used to get jobs from other tailors doing alterations and then I acquired my own customers. 95% of them are barristers and I have never advertised, all my customers have come through recommendations.

When I make a suit, it’s not for the customer, it’s for the people who see the suit. That’s my secret. They wear their suits in chambers and the others ask them where they get their suits. My customers come from the City. It pleases me when you do something good, satisfy your customer and they leave happy. You can’t get rich by tailoring but you can make a good living. I’ve made a lot of suits for famous people whom I’m not at liberty to mention but I can tell you I made a dinner suit for Roger Daltrey, when he got an award for charity work from George Bush, and I made a suit for Lord Mayhew. He brought two security guards who stood outside the shop. I made suits for both his sons and he asked them where they got their suits. He used to go to Savile Row but now he comes here.

I don’t go out for lunch, I eat food prepared by my wife that I bring with each day from East Finchley. She doesn’t see too much of me, that must be why my marriage has lasted forty years.”

“When I make a suit, it’s not for the customer, it’s for the people who see the suit”

“To learn this job you have to start early and you need a lot of patience to hold a needle”

“It pleases me when you do something good, satisfy your customer and they leave happy”

Photographs copyright © Estate of Colin O’Brien

You may also like to read about

Manny Silverman, Tailor

The Alteration Tailors Of The East End

Clive & Steven Phythian, Master Cutter & Apprentice

At Batty Fashions

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Mandy Thorne permalink
    June 18, 2024

    What a wonderful story and a wonderful man. Rest in eternal peace Chris

  2. Patrick Crowther permalink
    June 18, 2024

    I’m very sorry to hear he is no longer with us. I’m a photographer, born in London but now resident in Italy. I’d always pass by his premises when I was in the Smoke and loved seeing him at work through the window. He represented for me a link to the London of my youth, one which was almost completely gone. He was kind enough to let me make some photographs one time and was an absolute gentleman. RIP.

  3. June 18, 2024

    I have to confess that I agreed with Chris re retirement. I do love the way that your blog acts as a memorial for working people, extraordinary, “ordinary” people. I try to do the same but for dead people only. I try to discover them through the evidence that remains. You do it through conversation, which is fascinating. I do still try to “interview” my subjects, usually late at night, before I sleep, asking why they did a certain thing or how they would have reacted to a life or historical event. It doesn’t even matter if I am wrong
    You capture the essence of the person, for all time. That’s lovely. God bless Chris, I hope that he has a good send off.

  4. June 18, 2024

    As you can read in the article, Chris Georgiou was a brilliant craftsman and also had a great sense of humour. This guided him through his life. And unfortunately, this life is now finite… — How wonderful it would have been for me if there had been an opportunity for him to tailor a suit for me…

    Chris Georgiou, R.I.P.

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  5. Katrina BURTON permalink
    June 18, 2024

    A wonderful post, thank you for sharing it with us.

  6. June 18, 2024

    “You don’t want to retire.” No, sir, and I never will.
    I love the photo of this gentleman studiously bending over his work, looking so at home, so capable, so dedicated. A gentle smile, the sign of someone who is doing his life’s work, accomplishing something valuable each day, and providing excellence to his fortunate customers.
    What a lovely tribute. I’m so glad I got to hear about this gent.

    I once heard an interview with a career counsellor who specialized in middle-aged men who had succeeded greatly, but did not feel accomplished. She talked about “the poverty of purpose”.
    If one does not feel purpose, all the money and perks are meaningless. She talked about how difficult it is for such men to make a course correction — usually because they have defined themselves by their financial assets and belongings — but she talked about how rewarded they were when they made the necessary changes. So much of life ahead, so many lessons learned, and (thankfully) a sense of purpose.

    Thank you, GA, for shining a light.

  7. Annone Butler permalink
    June 18, 2024

    I used to pass Chris’s shop on my way to work regularly. I had two pairs of trousers made by him several years ago which are still going strong. So sad as I assume that the shop will now close. It’ll probably become yet another coffee shop!

  8. Christopher Woodward permalink
    June 18, 2024

    I just heard this and am very sad. Chris made my suits for more than twenty five years, including for two weddings. And, yes, I loved the ritual. The walk down that scruffy street from King’s Cross and then Chris lighting up as you waved at the window. You have caught him perfectly. Thank you. It is so good that you have written this; someone who was interwoven into people’s lives. All of us in that book!
    During Covid he was unable to go to Cyprus so his daughter took him to Scotland on holiday. He did not seem very convinced by The Highlands.

  9. Lydia Deane permalink
    June 18, 2024

    In a world of online “influencers,” I cannot think of finer tributes to lives well lived than these life’s work…and true…stories by the Gentle Author. Thanks so much for this one…and all of the others!

  10. Cherub permalink
    June 18, 2024

    Sad to hear of the death of a cheerful and hardworking man. I loved his story about the bank manager, it made me smile. Chris had a point about retirement, 2 people I know who retired early just seemed to give up, but I have another friend in his early 80s who still does his job 1 day a week and covers for staff holidays. It gives him a huge sense of purpose and pays for things like theatre tickets and travel. He puts my 63 year old self to shame as he never seems to stop.

    I am sure Chris will be really missed by all who knew him.

  11. Marcia Howard permalink
    June 18, 2024

    A big loss to his family and the community, but a wonderful tribute to him

  12. Michael Claydon permalink
    June 27, 2024

    A friend recommended me to Chris many years ago and from that time on I never went anywhere other than to him. An outstanding tailor, he had a ready smile and greeted customers as old friends. A modest man who never forgot his roots. He will be greatly missed.

  13. Stuart Etherington permalink
    June 27, 2024

    Chris had been my tailor for over 25years a real craftsman and a real gentleman
    I shall miss him
    Sir Stuart Etherington

  14. Michael Lake permalink
    June 28, 2024

    I met Chris by chance in 1988 when I moved to work in the Kings Cross area and he became my go to man for all matters tailoring. It was always a thrill to arrive at his distinctive shop to try on his latest creation and the most recent addition to my wardrobe. Chris was an outstanding craftsman and he knew how to make me look my best, or perhaps it was more that he was able to set me up to show on the quality of his work. In any event, I saw him regularly over the years and I found him to be amusing, self-effacing and always courteous. Chris was a thoroughly nice man, I was privileged to have known him and I will miss him.

    Michael Lake CBE LVO

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