Justin Cook’s World Cup Diary - Day 3
I was walking down the Rua Augusta today and came across this tailor’s shop called Plas.
It looked an interesting shop and I sensed there was a story to be told so I went in.
I was greeted by Maurice Plas Jnr and after a while chatting he introduced me to his father Maurice Snr and his mum, Gisela. We talked a while and the most amazing story unfolded.
Maurice Plas and Jean his brother were tailors and hat makers, trained in France and born in Normandy.
They met with another tailor called Joseph Goldman who came from Poland. Maurice and his brother were convinced by Joseph to leave Europe after WW2 and start a new life.
Maurice and his brother wanted to go to Canada, but Joseph convinced them to travel to Brazil instead and so in 1949 the twenty-something Plas brothers and their friend Joseph Goldman, aged forty years or so, left France and headed for Brazil looking for something better after the horrors that took place in the previous ten year period.
They arrived in São Paulo and started to build a tailoring business together that lasted till 1954 when the Plas brothers decided to go their own way and split from Joseph, setting up their own stand alone tailoring and hat making business.
They opened their shop on the Rua Augusta in 1954 and called it Plas. The Plas brothers then set about converting the bohemian theatre actors of the day, who had made the Rua Augusta their hang out, into wearing colourful berets and hats, the legend began.
Now let's leave Maurice and Jean there for a minute and talk about Maurice's wife to be, Gisela Christine.
Gisela was born in Germany, in June 1939. At the outbreak of World War Two, Gisela's father was a German infantry officer posted at the front line and really no different to the English or American front line soldiers caught up in a desperate and bitter conflict that would scar all sides for years to come.
In 1947 Gisela was shipped out on the first departing ship from Germany to Brazil at the tender age of seven.
Gisela was allowed to leave Germany on this first ship due to her mother and grandfather being born in Brazil. Her father was still interned in the UK in a POW camp until he was later allowed to also depart for Brazil.
Gisela and Maurice met at a party in the summer of 1960 and fell in love. They married and had two children, Maurice Jnr and Robert. Jean Plas died in 1969 and Joseph Goldman died in the 1990s.
Today Maurice Jnr runs the sales side of the business at Plas and his younger brother Robert has followed in his fathers footsteps and become a tailor.
Maurice Snr, now aged 82, still tailors today and this historical business looks to run for another generation to come.
I felt this story needed to be recounted, especially as we have just remembered the fallen of WW2 and personally it's a real pleasure to have been able to tell the Plas story in this way.
This family are a warm and special kind of people and I would certainly recommend anyone visiting São Paulo to take a trip down to the Plas shop on the Rua Augusta and buy a hat or have a fine suit made.
I have purchased a wonderful hat and am proudly wearing it now as I sit here having my strict one-a-day caipirinha watching out onto the enchanted streets of São Paulo with it's many different stories of many different people
I feel the soul of the city soaking into me... oops just ordered another one!