Last month, Hugo Boss showed its Boss spring/ summer 1999 collection at the New York Public Library. This was considered a cool venue and the clothes - light, fresh, easy - were pretty cool, too. The coolest moment of the show, however, was the appearance of Samuel L. Jackson on the runway. Jackson was clad in a limited-edition paper suit, a recreation of the one made famous by pop artist James Rosenquist in the 1960s. The star of Pulp Fiction and about-to-be-released The Negotiator did a quick twirl, the audience cheered, the cameras flashed and everyone went home happy. There is a minor historical irony here. In 1966, Rosenquist decided to have his paper suit made because, he said, 'I liked the idea of being able to go to my local newsstand and pick up a tuxedo whenever I needed one'. (You may care to try the same trick with this newspaper once you have finished with it.) He wanted simplicity, ease of access and, as he wore it eight times before it fell apart in a geisha parlour in Tokyo, he was not too concerned about repetition. In other words, he had a typical man's attitude towards clothes. But how that has changed. Men's fashion is a huge business. Everyone wants a corner of that market, we live in a celebrity-worshipping era - and that was why Jackson appeared for approximately 90 seconds on a catwalk. He was watched, from the front-row seats, by Billy Zane (the hilarious, hissable villain in Titanic), Ben Stiller (star of Flirting With Disaster) and Dennis Hopper, who has made a career out of portraying the kind of individual who looks as if he would happily torture young men for being overly well-dressed. The snappers took almost as many pictures of these three as they did of the show. Why is this happening? As is often the way in fashion, the women have been there first. And, as is often the way in the 1990s, where they have been is Hollywood. During the era of the supermodel, it was said by commentators that the masses looked to Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista for sartorial inspiration because they certainly were not getting it from Bette Midler. Then Michelle Pfeiffer wore a Giorgio Armani suit to the Oscars: she looked like an Amish girl who had inadvertently found herself backstage at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Now there is no fun in trying to pick out fashion howlers at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion because everyone is so beautifully styled. Even the men. The fashion companies are perfectly up-front about this process. The late Gianni Versace loved to surround himself with celebrities which was why there was such a stellar turnout at his funeral. And when Hugo Boss opened its largest store last year, it chose Rodeo Drive because that is where the celebrities are. The shop has a special area upstairs so that customers such as Antonio Banderas and George Clooney can be helped discreetly, but not too discreetly. The trick is to make sure the public knows where the stars buy without encouraging them to barge in on fittings. Parties, award ceremonies and fashion shows make this task easier. When, for instance, Gucci held a party at Santa Monica airport to benefit a Los Angeles AIDS charity in June 1997, it rented a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, filled it up with desirable Gucci items and told favoured celebrities that these could be worn free for the evening. The likes of Tom Hanks, Dylan McDermott and Seal, therefore, had a chance to wear some trendy clothes, Tom Ford looked as if he only existed within a rarefied circle of those who wore what he designed, and hundreds of photographs appeared in the papers of the merry, fashionable throng. Some stars manage to find their own way on to the fashion scene: Leonardo DiCaprio is a fan of Cerruti, as is Sean Penn. Michael Wong now has a professional relationship with Cerruti in Hong Kong which started off when he did some modelling for them. But for many men, it is the fact they have taken to visiting the womenswear shows with their girlfriends which has encouraged their subsequent appearance ringside on the men's circuit: being actors, they like a bit of rehearsal. So it may be worth seeing whether Bruce Willis (who appeared in Donna Karan advertisements with Demi Moore) and Brad Pitt (who used to accompany Gwyneth Paltrow to some of the women's shows) will progress to the men's division now those relationships have frayed. Even if an actor never makes it to the front row of a show, however, the catwalk will surely come to him. Hugo Boss has a team of people whose sole purpose is to find the best opportunities to showcase Hugo Boss products in the biggest blockbusters. In Lethal Weapon 4 Danny Glover produces a pistol from a Boss bag and Chris Rock wears Boss all the way through. Armageddon Ben Affleck's wedding tuxedo is courtesy of Hugo Boss - as are Jean Reno's clothes in Godzilla. Armani started this years ago when he dressed Richard Gere in American Gigolo. Now it has become an important form of advertising for fashion houses. The huge circulation jump in men's lifestyle magazines has made the stakes even higher. And some unexpected faces are being drawn into the fray. Former United States secretary of state Warren Christopher popped his head into the opening of the Hugo Boss Rodeo Drive store last year. Former president George Bush was spotted at the Emporio Armani show earlier this year. President Bill Clinton endorsed Ralph Lauren ('Hillary and I wear those jumpers with the flag on') when the designer undertook to sponsor the repair of the original Stars and Stripes. Perhaps the President, currently bothered by a dress once worn by an intern, should just stick to menswear. Or garments made of paper.