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Return of the Alpha-Male

As the world tut-tutted over the hazards of ultra-skinny female models over the last months, few noticed the men too had shrunk

After decades of using male models with virile good looks and porn star physiques to parade their clothes, fashion houses in the mid-1990s began downsizing men, going for younger, thinner and lankier models in a trend that last year wound up being just simply androgynous.
But specialists say a page is being turned, and the real men are back.
`Our man this season looks like a young Texan farmer,` said Ungaro assistant designer Damien Amsallem. `He has muscles, though he isn`t big. And even if he`s only 20, he has a real physique and looks like a man.`
Historians and designers say big-shouldered beefcake gym-addicted types were shovelled off catwalks in the 90s by the likes of Yamamoto, who went for street-boys as models, or Belgian avant-garde designer Raf Simons, who put suits with extravagantly small shoulders on sapling-thin boys who were not agency models.
Then came Hedi Slimane, who from 1999 to 2006 revolutionised menswear at Dior with cigarette-slim pants and narrow suits. He is credited with the worldwide crush for the skinny, boyish, often sexually-ambiguous, silhouette.
"Slimane and Simons and that whole generation of designers loved street and youth culture and rock `n roll and gave men`s fashion an androgynous make-over,` said fashion historian Lydia Kamitsis.
`Inevitably, now we`re seeing a turn-around, which is not over-statedly virile but which is the sort of masculine image conveyed by western youngsters today.`
At BananasMambo, one of Paris` top male model agencies, manager Patricia Cadiou-Diehl said that for the first time in years she was receiving requests for models aged between 25 and 30, `or who look as if they’re over 25.`
`We used to get requests for 17-year-olds, which was often a headache as you have to get special permits and parental agreements,` she said. `Now, over the last few months, they want boys with bodies, not adolescents.`
Eating disorders of the kind undermining the female model industry are unheard of with male models.
`Not having pimples is the most important thing,` said 25-year-old model Pires.

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