Capelli Hair Design named Salon of the Year

Owner 'Pierino Volpe celebrates with wife 'Marie, Stephanie Dick and Natasha Da Fonseca. Picture: Julie Bull

Owner 'Pierino Volpe celebrates with wife 'Marie, Stephanie Dick and Natasha Da Fonseca. Picture: Julie Bull

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It is a rags to riches story that saw him go from feeding on wild birds and wearing shoes made from old tyres to television appearances and cutting the hair of royalty.

Armando Volpe, who grew up penniless in post-war Italy, triumphed against the odds to establish a thriving salon dynasty and count the likes of Prince Charles among his 
customers.

His scissor skills were so ­legendary that he was invited to Holyrood Palace no less than three times to crop the royal crown for the heir to the throne.

And now the Stockbridge hairdressing studio he founded nearly three decades ago has been named as Salon of the Year on the second anniversary of his death.

Son and successor Pierino, who now runs Capelli Hair Design, dedicated the salon’s award to the memory of the man who built the business from nothing.

The 38-year-old from Joppa said: “My father was very poor and had no schooling. He couldn’t read or write and worked cutting hair from the age of 11. He came from nothing, literally nothing, and the family had to catch birds just to feed themselves.

“He was a typical Italian man who lived for work and for his family.

“The Salon of the Year announcement came on the two-year anniversary of his death which has made a very sombre day a very happy one.

“He would be so proud of us for winning on this of all days.”

Pierino’s wife, Marie, who also works alongside him in the salon, said: “We would like to dedicate this to Armando who unfortunately passed away two years ago.

“Receiving this award on this date has big significance. His customers still tell stories about him. In the 1960s he was as big as Charlie Miller.”

And 28 years after the business was set up, people from all over the world come to the salon on Raeburn Place, with visitors from as far afield as China booking appointments for a perm.

Armando grew up in the town of Rutino in the much poorer south of Italy, when people were still struggling after the Second World War.

Life was tough but he managed to earn himself a place at the Schwarzkopf Academy in Turin where he honed his talents. He came to Britain in 1966 to dodge national service and learn some English.

He had intended to return to Italy but then he met Catherine Wright from the Inch at a disco. The smitten pair got married and had three children and Catherine, who still does the books, went on to become a backbone of the business.

Armando, who had a slot as a hairdresser for Australia TV station Good Morning Sydney from 1980 to 1983, trained his brother and the family now has two salons in Turin.

Capelli succeeds last year’s winner Technik Hair Design in Morningside.

Marie said staff were “very grateful” for the recognition and to all the customers who had nominated them, adding: “It has really touched the heart of my husband. He is chuffed to be recognised in Edinburgh.

“Pierino is very good at what he does. We listen and customers get what they want and leave happy and content. But people also come for the chat. The salon is a bit like a community centre.”

She thanked the staff for their hard work, among them senior hairdresser Stephanie Dick, who has been working in the salon for seven years, and junior stylist Natasha DaFonesca.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com