The International Best-Dressed List has come a long way since its inception, in 1940, when founder Eleanor Lambert mailed out hand-cranked mimeographed ballots to 50 voters, and then notified the 10 winners (all American women) via Western Union telegram. For 2019, we canvassed thousands of Air Mail readers through an interactive polling system, created just for the I.B.D.L. Our far-flung participants were enthusiastic, especially when it came to their write-in candidates, many of whom were endorsed with ardent explanatory notes.
Reflecting the international readership of Air Mail, the 30 honorees of 2019 represent 16 different countries, making this year’s List the most global to date. Our honorees also come from a range of professions; among those named to the List are entrepreneurs, actors, athletes, a writer, an artist, and assorted fashion-world denizens. We also have an abundance of first-timers, some quite young (Elle Fanning), who showed unusual sophistication this year, and others (Ralph Fiennes) seasoned masters of their craft. Cate Blanchett, front-runner in the Women’s category of the International Best-Dressed Poll, landed on the List for the fourth time, potentially putting her on track for the Hall of Fame—to which station five-time winner Queen Letizia of Spain rose, along with the imperial Valentino. (The rule of thumb for Hall of Fame eligibility is a minimum of three appearances on the List, though there are notable exceptions.)