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Barber Shop

Francesco Cirignotta

The magic of a ritual at Milan's Barber

I peak through the windows of what appears to be a small shop facing the Darsena. I’m attracted to the elegant name in cursive writing which distinguishes the activity: Francesco Cirignotta. Right away it’s clear that I have found a special place, one of those that requires careful observation to be understood.

I see a man in a suit seated in the main hall. He is having his beard done by an elegantly dressed man. Initially I’m attracted to the beauty of the two figures, so well dressed and rare to see among the crowd nowadays. They seem right out of an old fashioned film. Either that or a carefully planned set for a photo shoot of a glossy, male fashion magazine. But it’s only Tuesday night, just any old Tuesday night and there are no photographers in sight. No spectators. Just them. The silence between the two is filled by background music which softens the hall elevating the entire experience to a ritual.

There is something profoundly more beautiful than this though, to see a man do his work with extreme dedication. To see this man in his ideal habitat. Created and tailored to the needs of the clients. Just like the suit he’s wearing, which fits him perfectly. It is this mix which all together makes it surreal. But at the same time extremely coherent. Maybe it’s the idea of a solitary person, who has single handedly built the perfect environment, just like a true artisan and with the ability of a tailor. You just don’t find them anymore, lost in the mass production of everything these days.

Everything is extremely sophisticated: the furnishings, inspired by travels, half way between a lounge and a luxury hotel with the most demanding businessman in mind, the Asian assistant who recalls Lucy Liu and who immediately offers you a warm towel to put you at ease, the second hall where you can relax and serve yourself a whiskey of your choosing among the alcoholic beverages on display. The chance to read a book, chosen from the rotating library, after you’ve done your own beard with the very best products on the market, in case you didn’t get a chance to book an appointment.

And the shower? Do we want to talk about the luxury of dedicating some time to yourself, to care for your own body, of the wellness that comes from needing to be happy with yourself? The list of services is infinite guys, and I’m definitely not the best person to roll them out when you have him, Francesco,  Milan‘s Barber at your service. “You could never sell something you wouldn’t want to buy yourself”, he tells me. I don’t doubt that for a minute. For a second I wish I had a beard.

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