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Atomic Kitten beats rival by a hair for best salon title

It came down to one point. That's all that separated the two Bakersfield salons vying for top honors at the Battle of the Salons Thursday night. In the closest battle in the salon competition's history, Atomic Kitten was named Bakersfield's top salon in an epic battle paying tribute to the Beatles.

Although the retro salon walked away with the $2,000 prize, both Atomic Kitten and fellow finalist Rendezvous Salon received one ticket for a stylist to attend the Step Outside the Box! two-day educational retreat in Paso Robles on June 27 and 28.

Those with runway seats also lucked out receiving styling products courtesy of Osmo Essence and L.A. Shear. But the real prize of being in the audience was seeing the spectacular battle between two of the city's most creative -- if not most creative -- salons.

Both Atomic Kitten and Rendezvous were well-represented in the packed audience at Metro Galleries. The show's hosts -- organizer Sean Faries and event producer Brandie Coffman -- fanned the flames of rivalry as each contingent showed vocal support for their salons.

The competition truly began with an appearance by the Beatles, Atomic Kitten style. Their own rocker version of the Fab Four headed down the stairs, kicking off the runway presentation. A snazzy Sgt. Pepper with fringed epaulets and lights in her hair was the first look in a series of bold and well-styled designs.

After all eight models had walked, the style team came out to talk about the looks, explaining each stylist had started with a song and then found a model and a look that worked it best. (One model who stood out was a long-haired hippie who came out to "Come Together"; the same model made quite an impression last week walking for Curl Up & Dye as their zodiac Leo.)

Before the competition, salon co-owner Ramona Potts said that she initially had reservations about the concept for "Blackbird" (a ballerina dancing down the runway to the ballad) until she saw the model walk during the casting call on Monday and "she killed it." The model's styling was equally bold: a stark yellow face and elaborate black-feathered headpiece into which her hair was weaved.

A judge, who said she gave the blackbird look a perfect score, told the team she "had never seen this much attention to detail before."

Along with detail, the runway competition was impressive due to the models' performances. With an extra 80 points on the line per look and eight models each (instead of the previous five per battle), each woman (and two men) sold the styles inspired by the Beatles. Among the standouts was Atomic Kitten's harem girl, who was carried and placed at the start of the runway, which she danced down to "Within You, Without You" (although her face reminded me more of Eleanor Bron in the Beatles' film "Help!"). She drove the crowd wild while throwing down some mudras (hand movements) as she posed for the judges.

Rendezvous' model for "Can't Buy Me Love" also rocked the runway with a supersized ring, jewels and money in her hair. She played along with the song, shaking her head and wagging her finger along with the song's "no, no, no, noooo!," tore (fake) money in front of the judges and pulled audience members up to dance. At the end of Rendezvous' showing, the other models pulled up audience members, creating a spontaneous dance party (except for their failed attempt to get my reluctant co-worker out of her seat).

Anticipation was high for the results, given the excellent showing by both salons. The room burst into applause for Atomic Kitten, as I suspect it would have for Rendezvous as well based on the vocal supporters and the alcohol consumed at the event.

The party carried over to the Padre Hotel's Prospect Lounge, where all the talented stylists and models mingled with their former competitors, loyal fans and the usual crowd that sticks to the downtown spot like flypaper.

View Battle Of The Salons Photo Gallery Here

Bonnie Forston ©<%=Year(now)%>