Front Row: Attention, Narcissists: You, Too, Can Be on the Best-Dressed List

January 24th, 2013

GO ON, ADMIT IT. What fashion-conscious person hasn’t fantasized at some point in the last 70-some years of finding themselves on the International Best-Dressed List?

Patricia Wall/The New York Times

Vanity Fair is opening its International Best-Dressed List to the public for nominations.

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Oh, you can scoff and say it’s just a publicity stunt. Actually, that’s exactly what it was when Eleanor Lambert dreamed it up to promote American designers during World War II. And it still is, as a popular feature that helps sell issues of Vanity Fair ever since the magazine took stewardship of the list a decade ago.

But budding style icons, actresses, fashion editors, first ladies, minor royals and quasi-socialites still angle to be recognized for their talents at getting dressed every day. And the fights between the judges, whose identities are sort of a secret, are hysterical. (André Leon Talley once recalled proposing the singer Maxwell for the list and being asked if he were the heir to the coffee fortune.)

The thing is, today, as Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair noted in his office on Tuesday, there aren’t that many fashion originals left, not since actresses became beholden to stylists and socialites to designers. So the magazine is opening up the list to you, dear reader.

Beginning this week, anyone can upload pictures to Vanity Fair online (details at ) to be considered for inclusion in a weekly slide show and a monthly prize from sponsors like Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus and Clinique. And then two winners — one man and one woman — will be included in the ultimate 2013 list, published in the September issue. It could be anyone.

“People who come into the list in this way will probably have more interesting looks than those who come the traditional way,” Mr. Carter said.

Aimée Bell, a deputy editor (and longtime keeper of the list), described the new approach as “the Sartorialist meets Burke’s Peerage.”

Well, it sounds like sacrilege — a bunch of fashionable nobodies and street-style groupies clamoring for a place alongside the Babes and Jackies of this world, just so Vanity Fair can increase its Web traffic. What would Ms. Lambert have said?

Ah, publicity. She’d have loved it!

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