By Giuseppe Valiante
Montreal businessman Corey Shapiro bought some flakes of gold one night to garnish his sushi for extra flavour — and then he had an idea.
Instead of eating the gold, Shapiro thought, why not infuse it into shaving cream?
“We wanted something that was a little more ostentatious and memorable than any other barbershop in the world,” Shapiro said during an interview inside the Notorious men’s salon he co-owns in Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood.
“Ostentatious” can be applied to most things Corey Shapiro, whose name and look have become iconic — yet controversial — in a city hesitant to celebrate conspicuous consumption.
“We called the barbershop Notorious because anything that me and my business partner do — we’re rather notorious with going all the way,” Shapiro said.
His partner is Patrick (P-Thugg) Gemayel, one half of the electro-funk duo Chromeo, and together the two men are part of the transformation of Saint-Henri from a neglected neighbourhood in the shadows of downtown skyscrapers to a district of choice for shoppers and foodies.
Shapiro, 34, wears a thick, black velvet T-shirt over his portly frame, along with shorts coloured peachy cream. He has two gold Cartier bracelets speckled with diamonds on his right wrist and matching gold rings — also dotted with diamonds — on each hand.
On the other wrist is a Rolex and hanging on his neck — not to be outdone by the bling on the rest of his body — is a 2.5-centimetre-wide, gold necklace.
“You pay $1,000, you get a shave,” says Shapiro, who sports a full beard that climbs up his cheekbones, almost reaching the bottom of his rose-tinted frames. “You get one shave.”
But not just any shave.
The gold-infused cream used in this special shave takes on a “charcoal-type property,” Shapiro says.
Next, a barber will take out one of the 10-karat gold razor blades made specially for the barbershop.
When the shave is done the barber will dull the blade, puncture it, and offer it to the client as a necklace.