“If You Burn The Hair… It Looks Like It Did When You Were 20”

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“If You Burn The Hair… It Looks Like It Did When You Were 20”

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge

17 June 2015

Talking hair – and how to keep it – with Mr Franco Bompieri of Milan’s Antica Barbieria Colla.

Mr Franco Bompieri was born in 1934 in the sleepy northern Italian town of Volta Mantovana. At the age of 15, with only 5,000 lire (£1.87) in his pocket, he left for Milan to become a barber. That was more than 65 years ago; he has been cutting hair ever since. Now, as the owner of Antica Barbieria Colla – a barbershop opened by Mr Dino Colla in 1904 – the venerable Mr Bompieri presides over a hairdressing institution that counts among its clientele the crema della crema of Milanese society. Actors, musicians, politicians and even presidents have sat in his barber’s chair and they leave with more than a haircut. With its vintage seats, array of lotions and potions and walls lined with signed photographs and old newspaper clippings, a trip to Antica Barbieria Colla is a chance to experience one of the last remaining vestiges of a long-forgotten Milan.

As well as cutting hair – a practice he has elevated to a fine art – Mr Bompieri is also a published author, with nine novels and two hairdressing books to his name. A truly impressive character who carries with him all the experience that 80 years of life can muster, we can’t think of anyone more qualified to dispense a little barbershop wisdom. Watch the video, above, to hear from the man himself.

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Film by Mr Jacopo Maria Cinti