In early May, I had the pleasure of attending the Hairworld World Cup global competition, hosted by Organisation Mondiale Coiffure (OMC), in Frankfurt, Germany.

Even though this global competition brought together 1,300 competitors from 50 countries, communication never proved to be a barrier. On stage, whether competing in bridal, classic cutting, avant garde, technical or fashion hair design, everyone spoke the same “hair language.” My eyes widened at the incredible talent, skill and technical expertise demonstrated on stage—making me feel so proud to be a beauty school graduate.

Editor's Note: Hairdressing Without BordersSure, the everyday client wouldn’t sport the looks created by competitors, but as Salvatore Fodera, OMC World President, told me, think about it like Formula 1 racing. “No one’s out there in a Chevrolet,” he said. “These models are meant to inspire and show the technical skill achievable.”

Beyond the thrills that come with competing and placing top in your category, competitors discover more about form, shape, texture and color placement. The skills learned from preparing for competition created a more polished hair designer—increasing speed, flexing creative muscles, teaching the ability to conceptualize styles and then execute them.

And the benefits extend beyond the competition floor. “It’s very exciting for my clients to know their hairdresser participates in a bigger part of the industry, outside of the salon,” Team USA competitor Nataliya Ilkiv told me. “It’s amazing to be a part of a team that gets to travel and learn so much about different cultures and countries.”

Winner’s Circle

This issue of MODERN celebrates 2014’s finalists for the Professional Beauty Association’s 25th annual North American Hairstyling Awards. After endless hours of planning, practice and dedication to creating the perfect collection, this talented group of competitors’ careers in beauty will forever be changed through the national recognition of the annual photographic competition MODERN proudly co-founded 25 years ago.

Join PBA and MODERN for the star-studded evening July 13 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. And if you’re unable to attend, MODERN teamed up with Kerastase, L’Oréal Professionnel, Matrix, Mizani, Pureology and Redken to bring you the exclusive NAHA live-streaming broadcast. Sign up for updates and see the full fi nalist collections at modernsalon.com/naha.