But this year's winner, Tony Ricci, also knows how to take those avant-garde looks and translate them into everyday, "real" styles for walking down the street -- not the runway.
Presented by the Professional Beauty Association, the North American Hairstyling Awards Ceremony (or in stylist speak, simply The NAHAs) -- considered the most prestigious hairstyling competition in North America -- was held last week in Las Vegas. Among the 13 winners in categories ranging from texture to color to make-up, top honors went to Canada's Tony Ricci who told StyleList that the award was both shocking and surreal.
After eight years of working to achieve this goal, Ricci said this year he focused on creating new looks with more detail. "If you're going to win something like this, you have to do things that are fresh, striking and haven't been done before," he said.
Ricci took us through his five award-winning styles with tips on go from runway to real-world for any woman:
Runway Look: Heavily-angled bangs are shorter on one side, along with some creative air-brushing techniques for color and pattern. "The asymmetrical look on the ends has been done before with bobs," said Ricci. "Here, we took it the bangs instead for a completely different and updated style."
Reality Look: Go for a bob with angled or varied length bangs. For the hue, experiment with colorful, temporary highlights or just keep your own.
Runway Look: Using a figure-eight method with hairpins, tight curls were achieved and then frizzed out to the max.
Reality Look: Use a small curling iron to create smooth, yet tight curls to bring the volume down a bit. But don't be afraid. "Big hair is back," said Ricci.
Runway Look: Hair was woven through chicken wire to create this textured pattern that Ricci described as a '70s feel with a headband effect.
Reality Look: Lose the chicken wire, but create a braid and wrap it around your head. Then use a large curling iron for loose waves on the ends.
Reminiscent of yesteryear's mullet, this new version combines a clean bob with longer, crimped strands. "This look combines two different textures and take them to a new level," said Ricci.
Reality Look: If you have the length, you can use a crimping iron on the ends, or use extensions at the bottom of a bob.
Runway Look: A flat iron was used on the hair down to the nape of the neck. Bobby pins secured those straight strands and the ends were then back-combed to create an eye-catching pouf.
Reality Look: To get less of a rat's nest effect, use a curling iron at the ends and keeping the back-combing to a minimum. "This creates a softer look that is not as exaggerated," said Ricci.
Want more runway looks? Check out what's hot for Fall.