When David Beckham took to the field at Wembley this week, his new beard commanded as much attention as his sterling efforts in lifting the England team. Given his influence as a leading style icon, will other men now follow his example and stop shaving?
We've seen the mohawk, the pony-tail, the number one buzz cut and the long, blond curtains.
1: Wispy moustache
2: Very low on the neck
3: Head hair lighter than beard
4: Untrimmed on the cheeks
5: Dense in places, almost shaggy
Commentary by Dan Davies, Esquire
David Beckham's succession of hairstyles has been a national obsession for years, but he's always taken it on the chin. Until now.
Once the face of a leading razor blade company, Beckham is used to his smooth jaw being on show.
But now it's hidden under a luxuriant pelt that ebbs and flows in both consistency and shape, rigidly hugging the contours of his face here, climbing off-piste up his cheekbones there.
After picking up the man-of-the-match award as a substitute for England in their final World Cup qualifying game against Belarus at Wembley, he was asked the inevitable question.
His reply? "I can't be bothered to shave. It is as simple as that. No reason behind it, no advertising campaign. That's it."
If anyone else had given their face a break from the razor, it would pass without comment. But his performance could hardly be reported without some mention of his new look.
A look compared variously to Old Father Time, Mr Pickwick and Grizzly Adams. Probably not the kind of company that Brand Beckham is used to keeping.
So what's the verdict from the fickle world of fashion?
"I thought it was a very interesting and individual take on the beard," says Dan Davies, deputy editor of Esquire magazine.
"Beards are having a huge resurgence in the fashion world and among men in general, but this one breaks all the rules because it looks like a quasi polo-neck.
"Most men grow stubble, see how they like it and trim around the jaw-line. But his looks like it's striving to join up with a colossal chest wig. It's an extraordinary wild-man beard."
Tipping point for beards
The extra one-and-a-half inches at the bottom needs to go, he says, and it's inconsistent, with huge "lamb chops" and a wispy moustache.
Beckham is still a style leader with great influence, says Mr Davies, so others will probably follow.
"As ever, Beckham has his finger on the pulse of fashion, but I think he needs to modify it a little."
There could also be an attempt to underline his status in the national side, he says. "He's 35 and the senior guy in the England team and the beard denotes his seniority and experience, even if it's a peculiar example."
Although beards have been prominent in fashion circles for some time, Beckham has his own style so doesn't need to conform to such vagaries, says Top Man design director Gordon Richardson. And while it's hardly flattering, he's handsome enough to carry it off.
Now that's a beard
"It undoubtedly will have some sort of effect. Although not at the forefront of fashion - there are far more influences on young people than there were 10 years ago - Beckham is still hugely popular and influential. Kids can't help but look at him and think 'It's OK to do that'."
This is probably a tipping point for beards, he says, because when Beckham endorses a look it often means it crosses over into the mainstream.
But if Beckham's powers of influence are to wane, as they inevitably will at some point, who is standing by to take his crown as style arbiter?
"I don't think there's anyone who has his attributes - the sporting talent, the looks, a wife with a stellar career of her own, and a life in a goldfish bowl," says Mr Davies.