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Friday, 19 June, 1998, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Seeking Millennium Man
A male model simulates Bachelor Man in his designer pad
A male model simulates Bachelor Man in his designer pad
They seek him here, they seek him there, that damned elusive ... British male consumer of luxury goods.

Exhibitors at the GQ Show in London this weekend are courting the modern British man. But who is he?

Lamborghini heaven
Lamborghini heaven
He is fashionable without being effeminate, image-conscious without being vain, sensitive but strong, beer drinking - yes, beer-swilling - no.

He works hard, plays hard, he is fun-loving, adventurous. And most of all he loves to spoil himself by spending loads of "wonga" - at least that is the hope of scores of exhibitors longing to sell him something to make him feel like a real modern man.

Whip off that designer stubble
Whip off that designer stubble
At the exhibition, you will find images of him, you can find the car he drives, the watches he wears - even his bachelor pad has been lovingly created. But will he turn up in person?

GQ magazine certainly hopes so. "We'll get to meet our readers and see if we're getting it right," says Bill Price, Deputy Editor of the men's magazine that celebrates its 10th birthday this year.

Imported from the US by Condé Naste, it was the one of the first to broach the British consumer mags-for-men market.

These took elements from women's magazines and sprinkled them with a few drops of testosterone in the belief that men were tired of stealing their girlfriends' face creams - they wanted their own macho moisturisers. Nivea, which is sponsoring the show, calls them men "who dare to care".

Impress your mates with these 'tasteful' ornaments
Impress your mates with these 'tasteful' ornaments
But men's magazines have seen their readership change over the last decade. Although GQ boasts sales of 700,000, there remains no room for complacency.

"It's a war out there," says Price, the main rivals being Esquire, Arena and Loaded.

Price admits Loaded is a "huge success" but aims at the brasher "lager and shouting" man. GQ, he explains, is courting the "been there, done that, need more, older, wiser" chap.

He believes British males have finally grown up - no more men behaving badly, more like men behaving better, more stylish, more designer.

Designer bacherlors

Single fella's ideal home?
Single fella's ideal home?
Designer, designer, designer - the word echoes all over the exhibition hall. Designer shades, designer bean bags, designer jogging aids.... The event's organiser, Michelle Evans, boasts that 19 men's fashion designers are appearing for the first time together under one roof.

Mini is showing exclusive range of its cars including one styled by British designer Paul Smith.

Mini is also seeking what it calls "90s Bachelor Man" - although with the nineties almost at an end it might not seem worth the effort.

Anna Ryder Richardson:
Anna Ryder Richardson: "Today's man is happy being a bachelor"
"Today's man is happy being a bachelor," says interior designer Anna Ryder Richardson who presents the BBC TV show Changing Rooms. She has helped to create the ultimate bachelor pad based on the results of survey carried out by Mini on living habits and lifestyles.

It certainly screams single and proud everywhere in chrome and monochrome with the odd splash of red and very retro: a lava lamp bubbles silently next to a Philip Starck designer bath and a model lounges about in a big black leather chair.

flat screen tv
Mitsubishi's flat-screen TV - a cool ten grand
Britain's latest Internet Service Provider, Breathe, is also here looking for Mr Modern. "He wants to enhance his life. He wants instant access," says the head of product development, Philip May.

Breathe is offering a join-up fee of £6.99 at the show for a no-frills service that allows their users to access their mail from any location through their Web site. It will be Web-casting events at the GQ Show all weekend.

Off-line surfing
Off-line surfing
There is plenty of other interactive entertainment on offer too: rock-climbing, simulated surfing, bucking bronco, table football, kick-boxing, tennis, fashion shows.

Groovy Guy can slaver over sports cars, high-tech watches and cool gadgets like the Mitsubishi flat screen TV which will set him back a hefty £10,000.

Real men go rock-climbing
Once he is totally wrecked from all that activity, Thoroughly Modern Fella can lob down a few beers and take advantage of a free shave or a relaxing session of reflexology.

So is all this enough to draw in Millennium Man himself - and what would he enjoy most?

"All those pretty women working at the booths," says 29-year-old Todd Grossman from New York, who is over here in London to take part in Sunday's Marathon.

Some things just never change.

GQ Show ends on April 26 at Earls Court 2, London

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