Tradition & Innovation
In Milan, Italy, over a 100 years ago, the barbers of the city paid huge attention to detail and wished to give customers the best possible service, and Dino Colla’s establishment was no exception. Men could go there for a treatment that included the full service of a haircut, trimming the mustache, or shaving the beard, followed by a hot towel. To put this high-quality experience in a bottle, a collection of aftershave, beard oil, shampoo, and soaps for skincare was created. The collection was well received by the world, and the barbershop, which has been standing in the same spot since it was opened in 1904 and is now known as Antica Barbieria Colla, continues to sell those superior products to this day.
Dino Colla was a barber from Ferrara who opened his own barber shop “Antica Barbieria Colla” in Via Manzoni, 19 (Milan) in 1904. He certainly faced a world that nowadays is inconceivable: horse-driven streetcars and carriages would cross each other on streets, together with the first automobiles. He never served customers himself, he rather trained his staff to guarantee they could provide a highly refined service. Some of his grooming techniques have made history: aftershave steaming face towels, taper haircuts performed with candles and the first shampoos made out of Marseille soap flakes, bitter almond oil, egg, rum and salt. Colla was a visionary of his times. After a few years since its opening, due to its great success, “Antica Barbieria Colla” was adopted as a sort of gentlemen’s club of Milan, on the style of the British ones. Indeed, it was chosen by authorities as a venue to host events,
such as the opening ceremony of the Exposition Universelle in Milan. When the salon’s success was established, Dino Colla started looking for a bigger location and in 1919 the business was relaunched in Via Verdi, 2 at the corner with Via Manzoni, facing the theatre La Scala.
In its new location “Antica Barbieria Colla” experienced its greatest glory and acclaim. It was treated almost as an institution, given that all authorities were served by it. Colla’s success lasted until August 1943 when a dreadful bombing razed to the ground Piazza Scala and the surrounding area, causing the shop to reopen 9 months later. “Antica Barbieria Colla” reopened on April 1st 1944 in Via Gerolamo Morone, 3 (its current location).
Among the many employees, only one, Guido Mantovanini, loyally waited for the reopening.
His loyalty was duly repaid by making him the sole heir of the business upon Dino Colla’s death in February 1949 at his Milan residence in Via Bigli, 21.
Franco Bompieri joined “Antica Barbieria Colla” fresh from the “Hotel Continental” experience on January 16th 1960. It would have gone on to be a sincere and passionate partnership:
the shop was thriving even more due to the clientele brought forward by Franco Bompieri. Franco Bompieri and Guido Mantovanini became shareholders at 50% each in 1965 and for thirteen years they earnestly worked together. Guido Mantovanini grew ill in 1973, hence, two years later (1975), Franco Bompieri became the sole shareholder of a shop which was already greatly acclaimed in Milan.
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