Lino Carbosiero welcomes us with courtesy and simplicity in the hairdressing salon where he works. While he talks to us, he cuts hair of people going to a meeting in the City, or a work brunch, in an ordinary, busy morning. In his spontaneity, it is hard to believe that the chairs we are sitting on are the very ones where he takes care of the style of David Cameron, Hillary Clinton, Madonna. Yet this is the truth, and Lino’s story is even more interesting, if that’s possible.
In 2016, Lino is the star of the wonderful Daniel Galvin flagship salon in the city centre of London. Divided over two floors, it has its own café, wardrobe and reception, while Mercedes and Jaguars bunch at the entrance. Among his customers you can find names such as Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Catherine Zeta Jones. In 2014 he became one of few hairdressers to receive an MBE.
In 1951 Lino’s mother came to the UK, following her sister who had fallen in love with a British soldier during the war. By 1958 her husband, Lino’s father, had also arrived. They literally had cardboard suitcases and three pounds in their pocket. In order to feed the family, Lino’s father gave up the bakery work for which he had trained for years, and worked in a pet food factory sorting meat scraps for the rest of his life.
«We were like kings, and we were poor». Lino was born in the Italian community of Ascot, when it was growing but still small. To get pasta or prosciutto they have to wait until one of their neighbours came back from Italy with a load of food. He then goes from Italian house to Italian house, with people pouring out to get spaghetti and pecorino just as if it was an ice-cream van.
Lino grew up talking in English, but living as an Italian. His first fight at school happened when he was called garlic breath and spaghetti head. Going to southern Italy, to Foggia and Nola, on holiday to visit relatives, he did not understand why his cousins called him inglesino; his bruises showed his passion in fighting for his Italian heritage.
Lino tells us that, at fifteen, he started working for a certain Mr. Franco. Above he had a perfectly normal hairdressing salon, below a warehouse full of Italian shoes, spaghetti, salami. Lino went there, made up a full load of goods and sold them around. When he had some free time, he stayed behind watching the gorgeous girls who always filled the salon. He also watched Franco at work, and he was totally fascinated because, when he was cutting, shaping, sprinkling their hair, it seemed as if he had them in the palm of his hands. This was the moment in which Lino decided his future career.
He then moved to London and started working in a salon. Shortly after, he managed to open his own with a friend, having immediate success. The first VIPs arrived, mostly actresses and presenters from British television, then some people from the music world, such as the wife of Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. Kylie Minogue came into his salon, other celebrities followed; Lino is skilled, simple and serious, and this is what brought him success.
When he ends his story, Lino takes a big paper bag and throws an infinity of photos on the table.