Salons that also earned our top honors in 2003 are marked. *Beauty Owner Thomas Miller’s shop is better than ever – urban, trendy (or not) and oozing talented stylists while it maintains its shabby-chic image in the same cozy old house. It’s even open Sundays (11 a.m.-5 p.m.). “They’re doing it right” – powerful words […]

Salons that also earned our top honors in 2003 are marked.

*Beauty Owner Thomas Miller’s shop is better than ever – urban, trendy (or not) and oozing talented stylists while it maintains its shabby-chic image in the same cozy old house. It’s even open Sundays (11 a.m.-5 p.m.). “They’re doing it right” – powerful words when they come from the competition. 1633 N. Farwell Ave., 276-5054. Cuts $35-$95; color $66-$76. The Cutting Group is where Beauty-trained new stylists gain experience, with high-quality service at affordable prices (all cuts $20). Walk-ins only, but you can call half an hour in advance and have your name put on the list. 2216 N. Farwell Ave., 226-9998.

*Studio 890 is now a bastion of style with four locations, each one deserving the label “top.” Two of the company’s salons were on our last top salons list in 2003: 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., 262-785-2899, and 890 Elm Grove Rd., 262-785-2890. Cuts $20-$85; color $45-$85; highlights $65. Two new locations join the list this time: Envy (3550 S. Moorland Rd., New Berlin, 262-641-8900; cuts $20-$60 women, $16-$40 men; color $40-$100; highlights $70-$100) and The Art of Hair (18000 W. Blue Mound Rd., 262-792-9722; cuts $34-$45 women, $20-$27 men; color $40).

*Carenza dazzles with a state-of-the-art new interior, reflecting owner Laurence Seybold’s belief that the future of the beauty business is in “design as the product.” Think Steve Jobs and iPod, he says. His goal is to make Carenza “stimulating and calming at the same time”; the salon even has a Zen-like shampoo room. “It’s about what feels good,” he says. “You’re buying peace.” 15455 W. Blue Mound Rd., 262-827-1000. Cuts $26-$75; color $49 and up.

*Erik of Norway Salon Spa A new owner, a fresh remodel and B.J. Rademann as education director combine to keep Erik’s namesake on our list. 1505 W. Mequon Rd., 262-241-5111. Cuts $25-$70; color $45-$60; highlights $75-$100.

*Bella Lei Owner Barb Stelter stays ahead of the game in downtown Cedarburg (W62 N560 Washington Ave., 262-375-5500) and with a new five-chair location at 531 W. Grand Ave., Port Washington, 262-284-4440. Cuts $35-$46 women, $25-$33 men; color $35-$59.

Neroli A reliable Downtown shop that’s open Sundays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (325 E. Chicago St., 227-2888). Owner Susan Haise also runs The Institute of Beauty and Wellness (342 N. Water St., 227-2889) and a second salon at 3885 N. Brookfield Rd., 227-2888. Cuts $36-$75; color $50-$70; highlights $55-$85.

Anton’s Salon & Spa This Delafield classic has added 2,500 square feet and plans a second location in Pewaukee. Williams-town Center (at Highways 94 and 83), 262-646-9888. Cuts $24-$88 women, $20-$51 men; color $45 and up.

Carters Salon has a charming Grafton Mill location. Ball-of-fire owners Carter and Lisa Prinsen make glamour happen. Carter’s daring, edgy cuts set the tone. 1350 14th Ave., Grafton, 262-375-0380. Cuts $35-$50 women, $25-$32 men, $15-$20 kids; one-step color $40.

Also Very Good
De Riah Another Cedarburg notable, in a historic mansion. Owner Shelley Szypszak, trained by the original Erik of Norway, added 2,000 square feet last year for spa services. W64 N707 Washington Ave., 262-376-1988. Cuts $25-$60 women, $25-$39 men, $18-$32 kids; color $42-$80.

Hair & Things Lively, stylish and one of the busiest salons in Waukesha, it’s a real gem (1718 Manhattan Dr., 262-544-4459). Savvy owner Maia Hanson also owns the well-designed GLOW salon Downtown (765 N. Jackson St., 727-4569). Cuts $20-$50 women, $20-$35 men; color $50-$55; highlights $65-$85.

Chris & Co. A palatial Delafield salon with crystal chandeliers and stylists’ stations forming a circle to encourage friendly interaction. Owner Chris Pinkalla, a former color instructor at Waukesha County Technical College, questions clients to try to match them with the most suitable stylist. High-quality products at reasonable prices. 2732 Hillside Dr., 262-646-5888. Cuts $24-$41; color $54-$75 and up. Complimentary cut and style with color.

Craig Berns Salon Spa Berns and wife Mary Beth run an Aveda concept salon (limited use of other product lines) in the former Delafield House restaurant space, offering a full range of services. 645 Wells St., 262-646-7406. Cuts: $33-$52 women, $23-$35 men; color $44 and up; highlights $75 and up.

Steven Edwards Color Group has a young, knowledgeable staff with emphasis on color skills. 3850 S. Moorland Rd., New Berlin, 262-782-4200. Cuts $30-$40 (with Edwards, $58 and up); color $41 and up; highlights $51 and up.

Lovely A smaller shop but stylish and affordable, it lives up its name. Owner Ann Mooney trained at Beauty. 2165 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 482-7271. Cuts $25-$40; color $67-$102.

Salon Dovini Also a small shop. Owner Merita Tairi is sophisticated and up to the minute in her know-how. The shop draws clients from the south suburbs, Racine, even Chicago. 7032 W. Greenfield Ave., 256-2000. Cuts $30 women, $25 men, $15 kids; color $38-$95.

Offbeat But Intriguing
Actaea is as edgy as can be. But it reaches out to everyone and has Sunday hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). 4001 N. Oakland Ave., 962-9889. Cuts $35-$60; color $50-$85.

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Masterworks Owner Georgianne Dickau and daughter/partner Amy Becker hold the line on price in this upscale setting. Many staff are Erik of Norway trained. One of the best deals in town. 1556 W. Mequon Rd., 262-240-1070. Cuts $27-$50 women, $19-$38 men; color $46 and up.

Colour to Go Professional, salon-quality color you can do yourself. Get it custom mixed and take it home with a full set of instructions and a pair of gloves. Or have it mailed. 12229 W. North Ave., 454-0539. Color and style $50; color with self-style $40; color to go $21.30; consultation $20.

Ethnic Hair Specialists
The best shops offering ethnic specialties, including styling for African Americans.

Showing Off Owner Hosea Bates is a firm believer in the one-stop shop. Along with a crew of stylists, his 7,000-square-foot old mansion offers clients food, clothing, handbags, spa services, even psychological services. 2742 W. Highland Blvd., 935-9000. Cuts $25-$55; color $65-$75.

Perfection by JE’Lamar Of owner Jimmy Lamar, Hosea Bates, who trained him, says, “He has the passion.” Lamar insists that the style and texturing is all in the cut. He favors Paul Mitchell products for smoothing and conditioning but says, “You have to know how to apply them and how much.” R&B vocalist Le Che Martin is a stylist here. 230 W. Wells St., Suite 100, 788-9174. Cuts $45-$125 women, $35-$125 men; color $75-$300.

Stella’s With several ethnic stylists trained by inimitable owner K.C. Miller, all ethnicities find highly skilled services to meet their needs. 5050 W. Vliet St., 443-2003. Cuts $23-$60 women, $18-$40 men; color $45-$65.

Top Stylists
The stars of the show, good stylists should have a heaping dose of je ne sais quoi, passion, creativity and sense of humor. Most of all, they should make us look great.

Expect no less, says Paul Wiggins. “If you don’t get compliments, you should get your money back.”

The prices for stylists are included and are a mere pittance compared to New York, where a cut can run up to $1,200. For color, quality products add more, as does the stylist’s skill and experience. This is one case where you get what you pay for. That’s not to say the most expensive stylist is the best for everyone. The right stylist is the one whose vision clicks with your own.

Tried and True
The following stylists, who all also appeared on our 2003 Best Stylists list, remain the most respected by their peers.

*Bjorn Nasett, Beauty Absolutely tops, though it’s hard to get an appointment, so plan ahead. Cuts $95.

*Tammi Savic, Beauty In the realm of color, she’s queen. Busy too, traveling weekends as an educator for Goldwell, one of the finest color lines. Color $70; highlights $110; partial highlights $90.

*Cindy Bindrich, Studio 890 At the top of her profession in cutting, styling and savvy. $90 women, $65 men.

*Ralph Van Atta, Envy Meticulous, thorough and with a passion for coloring, he’s now part owner of this relatively new salon where he has trained all of the stylists. Women $65, men $40.

*Janice Graham, Salon at the Pfister Graham runs this boutique salon with continued panache. 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. 277-9207. Women $60; men $40.

*K.C. Miller, Stella’s Coolest of the cool. This owner has converted an old funeral home into a salon with living quarters, a dance studio, yoga, pilates and more. 5050 W. Vliet St., 443-2003. Women $60, men $40.

*Brian Houston, Brian Houston Salon The da Vinci of his trade – radio personality, product developer and more. There’s no signage on his salon, but those in the know find him. 4479 N. Oakland Ave., 967-1637. Women $75, men $35.

*Lesa Ystad, Nadine & Friends, Live Gallery Creative, attentive, skilled and low-key. She designs jewelry in her spare time. 2401 N. Maryland Ave., 276-7620. Women/men $50.

*Carolyn Pacocha, Indulge New second-story digs. Modest about her talents, but her avid fans do the talking for her. Joined here by another top stylist, the endlessly creative *Robbyn Dublinski. (Both are formerly of New Options.) 409 E. Silver Spring Dr., 431-3155. Women $50, men $32-$45.

*Paul Wiggins, KWOF Wiggins is gone from the helm of Erik of Norway. Now you can find him at the new KWOF salon in a Whitefish Bay strip mall, the former site of Malcolm of London. Paul has his den on the second floor (the wood floor is three colors – blond, brunette and redhead), where he lets fly his boundless ideas. 204 W. Silver Spring Dr., 964-9878. Women $85, men $50.

*Mark Brimeyer, Texture Brimeyer is up on the latest, whether it’s fashion or technology. A great feel for adapting trends to fit the person and a magical way of mixing color potions that creates the shiniest manes. 6918 N. Port Washington Rd., 704-8050. Women $46, men $30.

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*Michael Kruczynski, New Options Has a long-time following in Whitefish Bay. “I do my best when people let me do what’s most flattering for them, rather than what’s most trendy,” he says. 523 E. Silver Spring Dr., 962-7450. Women/men $78.

*April Leong, Capricio Once at Malcolm of London, Leong does only cutting. Has a good eye for shape and especially understands the long, loose and wavy bedroom look. 3041 N. Oakland Ave., 967-0100. Women $50, men $37.

Also Very Good
Carly Flynn, The Establishment Flynn’s reputation is spreading like wildfire beyond her shop’s Shorewood neighborhood. Her experience in top salons in New York and L.A. and on films, fashion shoots and runway shows has made her a well-rounded stylist – for men, women, cuts and color. Past clients include Adam Brody from “The O.C.,” John Mahoney (Frazier’s dad) and actress Virginia Madsen. 4503 N. Oakland Ave., 963-4300. Women/men $50.

Tony Flanders, GLOW Flanders moved here from a New York Madison Avenue salon to an appreciative clientele. “He absolutely understands people’s hair and gives them the most current polished look in an easy-to-maintain way,” says one satisfied customer. 765 N. Jackson St. 727-4569. Women $80, men $65.

Jackie Seppi, Bella A young star back home after stints in Beverly Hills, Long Beach and San Diego. Book ahead. 4429 N. Oakland Ave., 964-1767. Women $35, men $30.

Brenda Rink, Eleta Another newcomer, Rink was styling models in L.A. before moving here. She looks at facial shape, lifestyle and skin tone, incorporating them into her styling. Another Goldwell color fan, she says, “It’s expensive, but I’d rather use expensive than compromise my work.” 314 E. Silver Spring Dr., 332-3077. Women $45, men $30.

Betsy Hatch, Linear Praised by her former co-workers at Beauty, Hatch is a breath of dynamism on Bay View’s busy strip. 2326 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 486-1409. Women $40, men $30.

Lynn Rohman, Lynn & Co Has a faithful clientele among local TV and celebrity types. “I get a lot of calls for the Kathy Mikelby look – short, layered, easy to take care of,” she says. 13700 W. Capitol Dr., 262-783-5388. Cuts $23, style $34 women; cuts/style $23 men.

Matt Mackai, Beauty Clients love Mackai. He’s meticulous and detail oriented. Yes, he looks young, but he started at 17. “He can take one look at you and know the best cut for your face,” says one customer. Women/men $55.

Diane Lukich, Diva Lukich offers intense spa treatments for damaged hair and scalp; hair extensions, too, all with a little L.A. attitude. 1221 E. Brady St., 272-4247. Women $75, men $45.

Lee Volden, Vertigo A quiet competence and a whiz with daring, edgy color. 1528 S. 84th St., 771-5001. Women $38, men $30.

Dan Mathewson, Impressions Mathewson listens intently, asks questions, then gives clients the style and color that works for them. “So precise, I swear he cuts the individual hairs,” says a customer. Women $45, men $33.

Amy German, Urszula & Company German brings her savvy from a downtown Chicago salon and has a wealth of Vidal Sassoon training. Known for her detailed cutting. 13831 W. North Ave., 262-789-0699. Women $65, men $45.

Heather Zastrow, Azana Cuts and color to complement your features, with emphasis on easy-to-maintain styles. 200 N. Moorland Rd., 262-784-4700. Women $40-$45, men $40.

Leah Flitcroft, Azana Legendary for her updos – for homecoming, proms and weddings. 200 N. Moorland Rd., 262-784-4700. Women $43, men $35-$40.

Paul Lewandowski, Actaea Does great bobs, color and men’s hair. 4001 N. Oakland Ave., 962-9889. Women $55, men $48.

Jennifer Volz, Actaea Has the Channel 4 following – reporter Jody Ambroz and others. As salon director, she trains the staff and promises “we’ll add an edge to it.” Women $55, men $40.

Kevin McElroy, Robert Lawrence Owner of this Aveda concept salon, limited to mainly those products. “I’m doing dimensional coloring, texture, wave and movement, be it short and sassy or romantic and longer,” says McElroy. Wig master for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, he also styles men’s hair and designs wigs for people who have suffered hair loss. 4060 N. Oakland Ave., 961-7000. Women $39, men $34.

Anne Weber, The Parlor “We’re the haven of curly hair,” says this owner. “A lot of people who work here have naturally curly hair. We can relate.” The Parlor also serves the 18-member Energy Dance Team, a.k.a. the Milwaukee Bucks’ cheerleaders. W161 N11629 Church St., Germantown, 262-253-6800. Women $43, men $30.

Diane Frelka, Diane’s Hair Care A one-woman band but experienced enough, she jokes, to be seeing today’s Vidal Sassoon-like trend back for the third time, “but with a spin.” 425A Genesee St., Delafield, 262-646-8585. Women $20-$45, men $19-$25.

Edith Brin is a regular Milwaukee Magazine contributor. This is her third Top Salons feature.

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