Rino Riccio, head of education at Manifesto in London, chats about inspiring the next generation, as well as what drives him creatively.
What led you to working at Manifesto?
I was raised in a hairdressing family but never wanted to spend my days based in a shop. My love for the industry came later on when I first saw the creative side of it, which was when I travelled with my father to Southern Italy for a competition he was doing.
I knew then I wanted to be more involved. I have always been drawn to the English aesthetic – I remember the mod and punk looks from the film ‘This Is England’ blew my mind – so moving to the UK felt right.
Whilst I was doing session work and working a few days in the salon, I got a text from Corrado Tevere and Mikey Pearson saying how they thought I was the right person for their new business, Manifesto. As someone who wasn’t too happy with what they were doing, it was a dream come true. Now I’m Head of Education of Manifesto.
As Head of Education, what do you want to pass on to the next generation?
Young people have this excitement and so many ideas and we should use that. I don’t believe in wrong and right when training someone in creative arts. What we teach is basic techniques and rules, once you have those, we encourage you to break them. That’s how people find their own style. Education shouldn’t be about a ‘copy and paste’ mentality, just a base for people to explore their own identity.
Another key thing we teach is to ditch the mask of confidence. When we’re going on stage, the team all know I need a few minutes on my own. Despite it being my job to motivate everyone, I still get nervous. I love sharing this and laughing about it with the team because it’s human to feel that way; it means you believe in something.
You have trained in both session and salon work, and on men and women’s hair. How has this variety shaped you and your education?
I’ve learnt that a lot of people look at session and salon, and men and women’s hairdressing as completely separate skill sets. One of our missions at Manifesto is to bring these worlds together. I believe that techniques are not gendered.
Sometimes, it’s easier to do a perfect haircut than the right one, so having knowledge of both session styles and salon work makes me more versatile and prepared. When we do a consultation, we often ask clients: “What do you like about your hair and what do you not like?” They’re not hairdressers so don’t always understand the options. For example, they may like the length and not the weight, but think removing all of it is the only way.
You’ve won many awards, especially recently – what do these accolades mean to you?
It’s difficult to explain. I won Italian Men’s Hairdresser of the Year at 16 which was amazing, for example. However, as people that know me will tell you, I am very driven so don’t always think too much about what I’ve just achieved. I’m usually thinking: “What’s next?” I don’t believe my knowledge or craft are complete, so I’m always focused on what I can do better.
It’s always great to receive texts from names in the industry congratulating me, though. One of the biggest compliments I heard was that Manifesto was pushing boundaries. When we started Manifesto, we’d get bullied by some barbers who didn’t understand; people don’t always get it when you’re doing something different. It seems as if people do now.
I recently received an award and it was during one of the toughest times in my life – I lost my father, who was my mentor and number one fan. But his death has made me more driven. I feel I have to keep pushing myself for him, sharing what he taught me when I was young.
As well as preserving the legacy of your Father, what inspires you?
Anything that creates emotion – art, music, conversations, nature. I don’t have one clear inspiration, it’s really just life, and I look outside of hairdressing for this. One of my works from last year had these lines at the back of the head, which was inspired by English brick houses [see image on left], something I had never seen in Italy, for example.
Do you go looking for inspiration or do you let it come to you?
I carry a book with me wherever I go and, if something captures my attention, I write it down or do a sketch. Creativity can never be forced, and a lot of people do force it when they have an upcoming show or shoot. It has to be natural. The most creative people in the world are kids as they are just living and playing and admiring everything around them – I aspire to be like that.