“Aerodynamics,” Enzo Ferrari once said, “are for people who cannot build engines.”
Ferrari built his eponymous brand on the back of exceptional powerplants — a series of small-displacement engines, chiefly V-12s, designed by legendary names like Jano, Lampredi and Colombo. They were artful pieces, hand-crafted works that produced great power and unholy noise. They collected races and championships like a fameballer gathers marriage certificates.
We live in an age where a brand’s history and core values often have little to do with its licensing potential.
How does a $200 Chinese-built hair clipper with a “Ferrari-inspired engine” (to quote the press release) fit into that lineage? It doesn’t, of course. But this is irrelevant. We live in an age where a brand’s history and core values often have little to do with its licensing potential. Maybe the famously mercurial Enzo, dead since 1988, would have approved of a hair clipper licensed to wear his name. Maybe not. It’s probably best that we don’t know.
So here we have the BaByliss Pro Volare clipper. Your $200 gets you a three-speed cordless haircutting device with an easy-grip rubberized back, a one-hour quick-charge time, a moving steel blade coated in diamond-like carbon, and a fixed steel blade coated in titanium. It is red. Its “Ferrari-inspired” electric motor runs for a claimed 70 minutes with a full charge and comes with an assortment of useful accessories — a charging stand, oil, a cleaning brush, a selection of comb attachments. A dial at the top of the clipper lets you adjust cutting depth from 0.8 to 2.0 millimeters in increments of 0.3 millimeters. The blade has a one-year warranty. The clipper itself is good for two.
My test unit came in a gloss-black presentation box, one festooned with slogans like “success is built upon the performance of the engine and blade,” and “finest professional clipper made.” It also came covered in someone else’s hair, the leftover snips of a previous reviewer. This was harmless, albeit slightly creepy. As a result, I did not try it on my own hair, though I did use it to cut the locks off a Barbie doll bought specifically for the purpose. When I was done, Barbie’s head felt smooth as suede and she looked like a young Debbie Harry. I suppose that’s what you’d call a success.
This was admittedly not the most trying of tests. I briefly considered offering the BaByliss to my local salon for an extended evaluation, but then I remembered a conversation I once had with my barber regarding hair clippers. It went something like this:
Me: “Is that clipper a Wahl? I hear those are pretty decent.”
Him: “Eh, yeah, but a clipper is a clipper. As long as they don’t jam or fall apart that often, they’re all the same.”
Me: “Which ones don’t jam or fall apart?”
Him: “The expensive ones.”
Me: “Is the one you’re using expensive?”
Him: “Your head’s moving too much. Stop talking. How high do you want your sideburns?”
A quick Google search shows the BaByliss Pro Volare to be among the more expensive clippers on the market. Make of that what you will.
Babyliss Pro is a respected firm in the styling industry, and these clippers don’t tarnish the company’s name — they’re sharp, the blades cut cleanly and aren’t prone to jams, and the graduated clipping-height dial feels like it will last. It’s the other brand on the box that irks. What, exactly, are you paying for here? Despite a host of Ferrari logos on the BaByliss’s box, there’s no prancing-horse badge on the clipper’s exterior, and the electric motor at its heart doesn’t seem to be anything special. It sounds and feels just like every other clipper I’ve used.
There is one benefit, though: A Ferrari-branded hair clipper lets you indulge your inner monologue nerd, crossing hair terminology with car-review patter ad infinitum. To wit, the following popped into my head while trimming Barbie:
“Modern technology? I miss the days when cars and hair were dangerous, when clippers didn’t have electronic stability control and drew blood if you got sloppy around the ears. That separated the men from the boys! Oh, those hair-clipping men of old! Remember Mario Maruzzi, the Barbasol Beast of Burbank? From 1925 to 1973, he cut hair with his elbows, his hands lost in a tragic Brylcreem accident. Drove his Ferrari to work every day, never left a sideburn uneven. What a pro.”
On second thought, maybe it’s best to just find a good barber.