This issue of La Coramella completes the exploration of the barber shops in our area, going up the Panaro river, upwards until we reach Pavullo, where Corrado and Fausto have welcomed us in their boutique for elegant and perfumed steelworkers. Indeed, their barber shop looks like an old garage. It has a high ceiling and wide, deep walls, which can contain uplifted vans and open, steaming, hoods. The badges hanging on the wall, taken from the world of cars, remind me of my childhood when my relatives cut themselves off family lunches to admire Ayrton Senna; or to those fleeting glances full of guilt that I secretly cast to the Pirelli calendars, when my father brought me with him to the mechanic to change the tyres of our old Lancia.
But, instead of an aesthetics dirty with motor oil, bad language and naked women, our protagonists have paradoxically managed to create a warm and cosy space. The size of the place is not frightful, it gives a feeling of lightness. On both sides two work stations, two souls, are ready to brandish their blades and work on their customers’ faces.
The leitmotiv of this barber shop, which shines in their words, is Time. First of all we can see it in the furniture. There are not only badges on the wall. All the objects collected by Fausto and Corrado open doors to different snapshots of pop culture spanning the last thirty years. Every scrapped ornament, poster or gadget catching our attention has the power to seize and carry us to another dimension. I am moved by a guidebook to collecting coins that I enjoyed leafing through when I was a little boy.
This is not only vintage. It’s eclecticism, variety and history, which they have mixed to create their own retro style.
“We have opened the shop one year ago. Our old shop was equally inspired by a style that was meant to please us first. Relying on the usual interior designers, shops become all identical. We have given our personal touch to this place instead. A male, mechanical touch. We didn’t go in search of a customer base, we didn’t even try to make people faithful and then lead them towards an alternative. We have only imposed our taste. Mixing our ideas, we have created a genre”.
Gifts from the customers, swapping and a love for flea markets keep hybridization always open. And Corrado confirms this idea: “We want to create an ever-changing space. It shouldn’t necessarily be confined to the barber shop. It is a container. In fact here we have organized concerts, happy hours: at christmas we offered draft beer and organized the event Beer in the barber shop”.
Secondly, the temporal paradigm emerges during the treatment. It is an act of resistance against the haste that characterizes our times. With sociological awareness they ask their clients to sit down and put a stop to their rushing lives. During 45 minutes you are forced to relax while some experienced artist takes care of you. The ritual keeps happening every week, upstream if compared to a consumerism made of novelty and oblivion. Confidence comes back again.
We are talking about other epochs, about the Eighties and the disappearance of barber shops during those years: “Barbers disappeared partly because of the trend of unisex fashion, which guaranteed rapidity and effectiveness. With an administrative decision, licences were grouped in order to provide more working space, but in so doing they left out a slice of the trade. Furthermore, in the United States this had become an enforcement, a rule. That trend made everything easier for schools, for trade representatives. It was a commercial rationalization”.
Now, the fact that it is a trend doesn’t scare them at all: “For sure the fact that now beards are trendy can give us trouble if we consider our work in the long run. In our opinion, it has acted as a springboard for the revival of the barber shop. It will go out of fashion, but we will still want to go to the barber shop”. They know they will have to fight against the uncertainties and the precariousness of this trend they belong to, like everybody, after all, they know that only becoming a kind of benchmark they can keep on designing their own way.
Few simple rules to apply every day: no more haste, no more disposable treatments. The barber shop is a challenge to the present and to the rules that we are forced to accept: “Here men can relax, time stretches out and we let ourselves go, outside the hasty schemes we are accustomed to. The art of barbering is investigated and served each day with the right times and the specific tools. In a world where most hairdressers are unisex, sometimes it is nice to smell like barber shop. Now I say something that seems ridiculous but is sincerely true. Until a short time ago we were a unisex shop as well. And, regardless of fashion we have exactly aimed to the masculine gender. We were barbers and we became unisex hairdressers. Now we have been brave enough to make a U-turn. All this is necessary to get round the fact that only women can have this kind of relaxing space to take care of themselves. This is a space for men. The barber shop has always aimed at this”.
In the end, I would like to recall a scene of the amazing movie with Roberto Benigni Berlinguer, I love you. Here a question is asked, to which La Barberia and La Coramella are trying to give an answer. In front of a couple of feminists, who came to the People’s House in order to sustain their cause, a man with long sideburns and wearing an acetate tracksuit stands up and asks: “Hay, woman, woman, woman… what about man?!!”.
So, give us some space back!
Via Mario Ricci, 11 - Pavullo (Mo)
tel. 0536 23612