With london Fashion Week in full swing, what better time to celebrate the stylish diversity and fierce individuality of the beautiful people. Stylishly diverse and fiercely individual unless, of course, we are talking about the men. Because something strange has happened to male A-listers and front-rowers that appears to have made them all, simultaneously, sprout facial hair as if this were Afghanistan in the late 1990s.
Are they serving testosterone canapés at those exclusive cocktail parties? Has some global catastrophe affected supplies of essential male-grooming products? Is it all some Joaquim Phoenix-type stunt that will only be revealed after the release of a film, perhaps to be called I'm Still Beard?
We may never find out. Instead, all we mortals can do is sit back, scratch our strangely stubble-less chins and enjoy the parade. There's the "real-man" look of Brad and Johnny. The "wild-man" style of Sienna Miller's new man Tom Sturridge and actor Christian Bale. The "designer's stubble" loved by fashion fixtures from Tom Ford to Matthew Williamson to Marc Jacobs. And there's the "wispy, would-grow-a-full-beard-if-I-could" efforts beloved of Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake.
Things have reached a pretty hairy pass when even the latest advert for Gillette features three celebrities (OutKast's Andre "3000" and the actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Adrien Brody) in various stages of facial fluffiness. According to the company's research, 40 per cent of men now prefer to style their bristles and so, presto!, to cash in – sorry, to meet that demand – Gillette has produced the Fusion Proglide Styler.
Even Disney has relented and, after a 60-year ban, will now allow employees at its resorts to sport facial hair, as long as it is "fully grown in, neatly groomed and well maintained at no longer than a quarter of an inch in length".
From Hollywood to Hoxton, beards are big news, so while all it takes to get the look is for men to do nothing, women will just have to get used to taking the rough with the smooth.