T H E L E G E N D A T Michael Papaioannou has been Tillsonburg’s premier hairstylist for 49 years and counting LUX SALON
A t last count there were 25 hair salons in Tillsonburg. In the early 80s, however, there was just one—or rather, one that people talked about: Michael’s Coiffures on McKenzie Street. With elegant foil wallpaper, delicate porcelain chandeliers, and sumptuous shag carpet, Michael’s Coiffures was a small- town salonwith big-city style. But the real attractionwas the talent of the salon’s owner and namesake, Michael Papaioannou. Born in Tripoli, Greece, Michael was just 15 years old when he got his start in cosmetology. After working at his brother Niko’s salon during high school, Michael pursued his formal training at Marvel Beauty School in London. There he not only found his calling, he also found his future bride and business partner, Darlene. “My strength was precision cuts and Darlene’s was styling,” says Michael. “So together, we made a good team.”
In 1970, Niko retired from his Tillsonburg salon, creating the opportunity for Michael to take over. A year later, Michael’s Coiffures was born.
for facials and skin care.” Those first few years were incredibly busy ones as Michael and Darlene worked tirelessly to build their business and earn their clients’ trust. Their vision? “Excellence,” says Michael. “We competed in a lot of national and international hair competitions in those early years,” says Michael. “We won 42 awards in our first five years, and 90 in total. Darlene even represented Canada at the 1973 European Championships. I was invited to go, but I felt someone needed to run the shop so I stayed home.” From pixie cuts and perms, to chignons and chin-length bobs, there wasn’t any style the Papaiaonnous didn’t master. The Dorothy Hamill, the Farrah Fawcett, the Rachel...you name it, they did it. “In 1985, we styled 95 ladies on New Year’s Eve,” says Michael. “I started work at 4:00 a.m. and didn’t stop until 6:00 p.m. I didn’t even get to have lunch. I’ll never forget that.”
“In 1975, we moved the shop to a larger location,” says Michael. “With the extra space we were able to create amen’s styling area with a separate entrance. We had rooms for hair removal, manicures and pedicures. We even had a room
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