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Forget about the preening metrosexual.

Byline: By PAUL CAREY Western Mail

If white is the new black this season, as all fashionistas know, are men the new women? Where once London Fashion Week was all about what women should be wearing, February 2006 is much more about men. One of the week's hottest tickets - today - will be MAN, a showcase of cutting-edge men's clothes. The show, by five young designers and Topman Design, is a sign of how British menswear is coming into its own, thanks in part to a raft of new young designers. 'Men are less and less embarrassed to talk about fashion and are becoming more and more fashion- savvy,' says Gordon Richardson, head of Topman Design. But is it also an indication of the way men are taking over arenas traditionally dedicated to women? Last year saw the launch of two men's style magazines - GQ Style and Another Man. And Men's Health magazine, featuring taut torsos and silky six-packs, has a monthly circulation of 230,000. While women used to be the queens of cutting back on calories, men are dieting more than they used to. According to a recent Mintel survey, 25% of men are trying to lose weight (compared with 42% of women). And they are catching up in other predilections once dominated by the girls. Men now account for more than 11% of total aesthetic surgical procedures in the UK. In 2005, 2,440 men had cosmetic operations, which involved breast reduction, nose jobs, ear corrections and hair implants, compared with 1,092 in 2004. The likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Marc Almond and Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi have admitted to a little help from the surgeon's knife, while Michael Douglas was reported to have paid pounds 7,000 on plastic surgery before his marriage to the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones. No wonder then that the phrase 'metrosexual' - a man who embraces his inner female and enjoys pursuits such as fashion and grooming - was born. But have men become too obsessed with the way they look? In the US, a new male is emerging - the ubersexual - and the word is that the metrosexual, coined two years ago by top trend spotter Marian Salzman, has had his day.

The ubersexual is said to embrace the positive aspects of his masculinity or 'M-ness' - such as confidence, leadership, compassion and passion - without giving in to the stereotypes that give 'real men' a bad name (disrespect toward women, emotional vacuum, ignorance of anything beyond football). Salzman, author of new book The Future of Men, believes the days of metro are numbered, partly because there is a backlash to them rather overstaying their welcome. (It's all very well gelling your hair, Gavin, but how many times do we have to hear about it?)

According to Salzman, men want their 'M-ness' back. They are said to be fed up of 'taking their behavioural and fashion cues from their female counterparts and from men's magazines that boil men down to their basest, most simplistic selves'. So how do you know if you are wasting your time on a preening metro or whether you've got the very latest model of an ubersexual on your hands? Salzman is here to help. Both are passionate, she says, but the uber is passionate about causes and principles, while the metro is mostly passionate about himself. The uber spends more time grooming his mind than his hair and while both treat and respect women as equals, the uber considers other men, not women, his best friends. The uber is more sensual and not at all self-conscious - he doesn't need other people to tell him he's sexy - nor does he plan his errands around which shop windows offer the best reflection. And while the metro might get his design tips from boy bands, the uber gets them from his travels and interest in art and culture. The uber knows the difference between right and wrong and will make the right decision regardless of peer pressure, while the metro knows the difference between toner and exfoliant - and worries that he is using yesterday's brand. 'The descriptor 'uber' was chosen because it means the best, the greatest,' says Salzman. 'Ubersexuals are the most attractive (not just physically), most dynamic and most compelling men of their generations. They are confident, masculine, stylish and committed to uncompromising quality in all areas of life.' Girls, you've been told, so don't waste Valentine's Day on a man who will make you and the taxi wait on an evening out. Go find an ubersexual who will quote poetry while he carries you to the restaurant in his bare arms.: Five of the best of Salzman's uber males:Guy Ritchie. His masculinity is unquestioned even though he married one of the world's top music icons, Madonna, a woman widely regarded as a bossy madam by many men. (Gravitating towards strong women tends to be an uber trait).

Pierce Brosnan, right. Combined James Bond strength with quiet mourning for his first wife, whose children he has raised. The perfect mix of suave and savoir faire. Ewan McGregor. A handsome, fashionable family man, McGregor, comfortable in his own sexuality, is as at home riding his Harley-Davidson as he is on the red carpet. Bill Clinton. A born charmer with Southern roots, and a supremely confident leader who is not afraid to cry. George Clooney. Appreciative of the finer things in life (his villa on Lake Como), he has a raft of solid, loyal male friends. Acts in, directs and produces films.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 14, 2006
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