Wet Shaving – Interview with Mastro Livi. The Italian excellence of straight razors.
With this article/interview, we present to our readers a sector that, in recent years, has gained increasing interest in the field of male “self-care”: the so-called Wet Shaving.
After more than thirty years during which shaving has almost always been identified as an annoying and unavoidable daily task, to be performed as quickly as possible, before leaving the house in the morning, in the last five years there has been a significant return of interest for traditional practices. Many men today, both young and more mature, and for different reasons, have decided to take care of themselves without leaving anything to chance.
The “ritual” of shaving is thus returning to the times and means necessary for the practices that have always been used, before the advent of consumerist, polluting and approximate disposable razors and cans of rapid foam.
Now, the password is “Slowness“. You have to take your time and use the most suitable tools and products to get the desired result. The D.E. (Double Edge) razors with their interchangeable blades, the brushes with which to mount the shaving soaps (whose choice literally increases day by day), the aftershave and balms to treat the skin after shaving, and all kinds of accessories that can complete what, from an annoying task, has once again become a pleasant ritual, a moment of more or less daily reflection, a link with gestures and people of the past, and an act of love for oneself.
Among the fundamental tools of wet shaving, we find the one that has always been used by the barbers of the past: namely the Freehand (or Straight) Razor. An instrument that, at first glance, inspires fear and at the same time, exerts an irresistible charm. How many of us, who are over fifty years old, have not experienced the pleasure of being shaved with this tool at least once? How many, especially in the smaller towns, where life flows more slowly, do not remember the habit of entering a barber’s shop, with its characteristic and unforgettable scents, to rely on his skilled hands that hovered on their faces with skillful craftsmanship ? Yet over time (and also for hygienic /health needs) the use of these tools was almost being lost.
Fortunately for us, however, someone resisted, and continued to use the free hands alone, or to build them. A narrow niche of enthusiasts and nostalgics has kept the flame alive under the ashes and, as mentioned, in recent years this flame has regained vigor and “The fire” now flares up ever wider.
Even the writer, after starting the path of wet shaving again, in a few months he found himself using these razors alone, without ever having done so in previous decades.
One of the men to whom we owe the credit for keeping the flame alive is Lido Livi, aka “Mastro Livi“. An Umbrian craftsman, knife maker by family tradition, who in the early 2000s decided to start forging these razors again. His son Luca maintained the production of cutlery and so the Master was able to devote himself exclusively to the design and production of his razors, personally carrying out all the fascinating and complex stages of processing.
Technical and entrepreneurial skills, creativity and imagination, have brought his creations to be known and appreciated both in Italy and abroad in a short time and have transformed “Mister” Livi into “Master” Livi, a prominent figure among the artisan producers of razors all over the world.
Shapes and aesthetics of Mastro Livi razors are subjective issues, but the quality and type of materials, combined with the mastery of the workmanship are irrefutable facts, and help to create real jewels, which are often not within anyone’s reach, but are in great demand by the lucky ones who can afford them.
What better then, than to offer our readers an exclusive interview with Mastro Livi to introduce the theme of Wet Shaving on this Magazine?
In the video below, you can see all the processing steps of a freehand razor.
Hello Mastro Livi, thank you for this interview!
We would like to start immediately in an “unconventional” way and therefore the first question is the following:
Q) Why should a Wet Shaving enthusiast buy a MastroLivi razor? What distinguishes them from others and made them objects of national and international worship?
A) because my traditional razors have the charm of the past, they also have two important values, high quality and the art, that makes them unique.
Q) At what point in your working life did the idea of producing freehand razors start to become important and did you realize that the Craftsman was becoming an Artist?
A) at the age of 14 I was already sharpening and repairing shaving razors under the guidance of my Father Alfonso. In those days the straigt razor was the main tool in the barbers category. Since 2000 I decided to restore the luster to this wonderful and ancient shaving object, now forgotten for about 30 years, thanks also to my son Luca who from ’99 took the reins of the Knives and Sharpening business. Thus giving me the opportunity to dedicate myself to this ancient instrument.
Q) Who, or what inspired you both technically and as a design (at least at the beginning) of the production of razors? Has there been or is there any razor (or manufacturer) that fascinates you particularly?
A) in the many exhibitions of the artisan knife in which I participated, this object did not exist on the part of my fellow knife makers, so I started the personalized freehand shaving razor.
Q) Is there any significant anecdote you want to tell us about? Famous people (if it is possible to name them) or particular places that have been reached by his razors?
A) I immediately received admiration from visitors to the exhibitions and at the beginning of 2003 I interested the USA, Australian and European markets via the web.
Among the famous people of our time who received my jewels as a tribute are Pope Francis, President Mattarella and his barber Franco Alfonso.
Q) We remind readers that MastroLivi also produces fundamental accessories for freehand shaving, such as brushes, strops and abrasive pastes, which are no less famous, in the production of razors. How important are these accessories for the perfect result of a free hand shave?
R) the freehand razor, even of the highest quality, created with noble and best steel on the market and the only existing ones, cannot make shaves indefinitely, but requires routine maintenance for the perfect maintenance of the cutting edge itself. These accessories such as strop and abrasive pastes must be suitable for maintaining the thread but it is not enough! It is necessary to know and exercise the perfect use of these accessories. Brushes also matter for a good shaving experience.
Q) What advice would you like to give to those who, today, want to look out on the fascinating world of Wet Shaving with the Free Hand? What is the correct approach and what is the right procedure for a beginner to follow? (In this case, we are directly interested, because even the writer has recently started using this type of razors). At what level of experience can you start thinking about being able to successfully use a MastroLivi?
A) A MastroLivi razor has no particularity of use in shaving, it impeccably shaves any type of beard.
For a neophyte who has never used a free hand, I usually recommend a shavette that resembles the traditional razor but has an interchangeable blade.
For example, it can remove the edge from the latter by passing it on a glass cup. At this point the edge is harmless and can be used to simulate shaving on the face to take the hand with the help of the mirror, without the risk of cutting yourself. This way you learn the movements and shaving techniques. Then when he gains security and awareness, he can mount on it a new blade and start shaving. From here, then you switch to the free hand in all respects and if you use a MastroLivi you no longer leaves it.
Q) We have reached the end and at this point, we all know that Mastro Livi is a star of first magnitude, known and appreciated in the world for his professional activity in the Traditional Shaving sector, but now it is right to get to know better “Mr.” Livi. Because behind a brand or a product, there is always behind a person. What is your history? And what are your other possible interests?
A) My name chosen by my parents is Lido while the surname is Livi. It was many years ago, while I was forging a Katana sword, that Mr. Bonelli, then owner of the private TV in Perugia called Teleaia, entered my shop. Mr. Bonelli after having witnessed and appreciated my work at the forge complimented me by calling me Mastro (Master), I asked for the meaning and accepted it with immense satisfaction.
Since then this title has joined the surname I carry which is part of my ancestors, 6 generations crowned by the MastroLivi art title.
I would like to write many things about the experience of my life .. maybe one day to honor the owners of my jewels, scattered all over the world, I will write about it!
Thanks Mastro Livi!
Texts and Interview © iBESTmag – Images courtesy of MastroLivi – Reproduction Forbidden.