Even before Facebook groups, the football games on Monday night or Sunday mass, the place to meet for serious discussion, dedicated to all things “man”, were barber shops.
Of course some would argue that, in eighteenth-century London, there were gentlemen’s’ clubs… but these were often confined to aristocratic circles.
The bourgeoisie, the same social class who constructed the following century, met in the most discreet, less sumptuous, but always good-spirited places. Barber shops to be exact.
Yes, because far from the idea that we have today, the salons at the beginning of the century, crafted and possessed a different kind of allure, as did Milan at the beginning of the century. It goes without saying that Antica Barbieria Colla thus becomes the focal point of this juncture.
Founded in 1904 by Dino Colla, Antica Barbieria Colla quickly became a social lounge during the most interesting historic period of Milan. Cutting only with scissors, using warm cloths but also a burning technique for fragile tips, and a manicure service – originally completed by two glamorous girls hidden behind a curtain, the services provided over 100 years ago, are the same that exist today.
The staff, in impeccable white coats, welcome more or less the same customers that they have welcomed over the years: intellectuals, politicians, entrepreneurs, but also just curious youth attracted by the charm of the salon.
Michele Lupi, Director of ICON, knows this, and thus became our model, returning to Barbieria Colla after several years.
“I entered Antica Barbieria Colla for the first time in 1982 with two vinyl records: Clash’s first album and Richard Hell and The Voidoids. I still remember it was summer and I was wearing a Black Flag T-shirt, which totally clashed with the sophisticated composure and perfume of other clients.
Mr. Bompieri, in a white coat, at the cashier, welcomed high finance big shots with a smile, but it was evident that his face lit up only when someone of intellectual rank appeared at the door. Somehow he took a liking to this lanky boy, certainly out of kilter with the rest.
I’ve always liked this elegant place, tranquil, a matchless island that reflects the motto of an old Levi’s advertising campaign: Quality Never Goes Out of Style.”
Today the Antica Barbieria Colla, or “Colla” as it is affectionately known, continues to be a landmark for Milanese, but also for a number of international regulars, attracted by the elegance and charm of this inimitable place.
Michele Lupi in addition to being the Director of ICON is a true connoisseur of Milan.