«What is beauty, then?» I ask Roberto while – after finishing his coffee – he joins his hands and looks at me from the opposite side of the table in a café in Monteverde. Outside it is pouring down in one of the very few truly winter days in Rome. «I believe that beauty is giving the best you have, in order to be free», he tells me, and I must admit I am a bit surprised. Roberto is an unusual man. He is carrying a dark Borsalino hat, a green waistcoat over a white shirt, the chain of his pocket watch dangling from this light-coloured jeans. He smiles all the time, while his eyes scrutinise me, as if he was trying to memorise the shape of my face, my sideburns, the wrinkles on my forehead. It must be a professional warp. Roberto’s story is a jagged one: it begins with a degree in Fashion Science, and then a period in musical journalism that took him to London, to work in a photography studio. This education in beauty is what, on returning to Italy, brought him to try and take care of his friends’ beards, almost by chance.
When he realised that that was what he wanted to do, he started again and began to study. He learnt from everyone: from the historical barbers’ shops in Rome to the new masters in Oslo. He even made his first own barber’s chair, welding the seat of an old Fiat Punto to the platform of an office chair. He then began exhibitions. And the idea of “barbificio”, a barber’s shop that didn’t just stay in one place, but that travelled around the city, combining the ancient art of barbers, relaxation, new fashion trends and the idea that it will soon be possible to call your barber to your house using an app. Today he carries his barber’s chair anywhere his is asked to go, from evening in clubs to shopping malls.
Just before taking his leave, he tells me that we actually already know each other. And it is true, although I had completely forgotten. «Don’t worry», he says while I apologise, «I always remember every face I see».
The story has been written by Matteo Trevisani, writer.
Roberto Spigarelli’s professional and training path is like beauty: «a journey, not an arrival point».