Beauty & Grooming
READING: Figaro’s Barbershop May Leave Lisbon in Two Years
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A lot has been said about Figaro’s Barbershop. Since it opened in Lisbon in 2014, it’s been dedicated to preserving the art of traditional men’s grooming. It specialises in classic cuts from the ’40s and ’50s, such as pompadours and slick backs, and the shop doubles as a safe haven for men who’ll enjoy a refuge with some beer or whisky.

Like a moth to a flame, it’s become a destination barbershop that has attracted hordes of the curious — as well as the likes of David Beckham. Fabio Marques is the man behind the brand. He is now known as Lisbon’s “sick barber”, and tells us that he became fascinated with the art of barbery when he was a kid.

“I used to go to barbershops with my dad,” he recalls. “I always enjoyed the atmosphere of the barbershop. Everything was somehow magic. Then one day, 14-year-old me decided to cut my friend’s hair. Soon, I was cutting hair for my family and myself. I loved the sound of the clippers and feeling of turning out something new.”

It wasn’t until after college and a seven-year career in corporate finance in New York that he threw himself fully into the craft. Upon his return home to Lisbon, the self-taught Marques opened Figaro’s. He bucked the Portuguese trend of offering unisex services, operating exclusively as a traditional gentlemen’s barbershop.

Unfortunately, Marques is harbouring thoughts about leaving Lisbon. He tells us about his unlikely success, leaving home, and what the future may hold.

Figaro’s Barbershop specialises in classic cuts inspired by the ’40s and ’50s. Think slickbacks and executive contours. Photo by Figaro’s
What is the industry of barbering like?

This industry is like a jungle. There are too many people coming into the trade without knowing what they are doing. They are like sheep that got dragged in by this new wave of barbering that swept across the world five or six years ago. People think it’s cool to be a barber these days. But if you’re not passionate about standing behind a chair 10 hours a day, cutting hair and being a good conversationalist or listener, you will never be a good barber.

Fabio Marques, also known as the “sick barber”, left the world of finance to open Figaro’s in Lisbon in 2014. It is known as a gentlemen’s social den of whisky, beer and cool cuts. Photo by Figaro’s

“The goal is to make men look good, and not make ourselves look like artists or rockstars.”

You’ve worked on David Beckham several times. Is it unnerving to cut a celebrity’s hair?

Not really. I mean, when you see a head in front of you, you just focus on the hair, and after a few minutes, you forget who’s sitting there.null

Fabio met David Beckham during a shoot at Figaro’s. Beckham later asked for a haircut. The rest is history. Photo by Figaro’s
Do you ever wonder about how the future will unfold?

Barbers are everyday hustlers who live by the day. But yes, I do wonder about the future in this ever-changing industry. One good thing about being a barber, is you can be a barber anywhere in the world. If I could choose, it’d have to be a place where I can make a difference to the industry, like LA or New York. Otherwise, I’d love to settle down somewhere like Okinawa, where I can lead a calm life by the beach.

What’s wrong with Lisbon?

Nothing, but I’m tired of the city. It’s been five years since Figaro’s opened, and after another two years — or less — it will be time for a change. Besides, the Portuguese don’t really understand the value of barbering. I feel like I have created something enjoyed mostly by tourists; they make up half my clientele. While I’m happy to have them, I don’t want to turn my shop into a tourist trap.

“I’m tired of Lisbon. There are too many tourists and you just cannot call it home anymore.”

Fabio is a sentimental guy in his 30s. Some say he’s got the soul of an 80-year-old. Photo by Figaro’s
Your craft harks back to an earlier time. Are you a sentimental or nostalgic person?

I am, I am. Maybe I shouldn’t be, so much. I am 33, but people say that I’ve got the soul of an 80-year-old.

Figaro’s Barbershop is an old-style establishment in the Chiado district of Lisbon. Step in, have a beer or whisky, and enjoy edgy rockabilly pulses and vintage decor. Photo by Figaro’s
Should you meet God at the pearly gates, what would you say to him?

I talk to God every day, so I don’t know if I’d have anything new to tell him. But I do know that he’s not upset with me for anything.

Fabio and his crew, regarded as some of the best barbers in the world. “All the barbers who work at Figaro’s started from scratch at Figaro’s, so I know my legacy is safe with them,” says Fabio, Photo by Figaro’s
In the future, when people look back at this moment in history, what do you hope they will say about you?

When you think of Maradona, you think of football. I’d like to be remembered as the guy who opened the barbershop that became home to the best in the world. I know that at least to my apprentices, they will always remember Figaro’s as this cool motherhouse where they started.

Figaro’s Barbershop

39 R. do Alecrim, 1200-014 Lisboa, Portugal

T: +351 (21) 347-0199

Haircuts and shaves start at S$39. Book yourself an appointment here

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