In 1976, three years after her signature wrap dress hit runways, Diane von Furstenberg appeared on the cover of this magazine, which dubbed her the most marketable designer since Coco Chanel and the newest icon for liberated women. Three decades and millions of wraps later, the 61-year-old remains a dominant force in the fashion circuit, with a publishing house, a cosmetics line and a lifetime-achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, where she also served as president. She is also enthralled with another liberated lady: Wonder Woman. Inspired by the Amazonian superhero, Furstenberg has penned a comic book of her own, "The Adventures of Diva, Viva and Fifa," to go along with her new line. (She'll donate the book's proceeds to Vital Voices Global Partnership, a women's nonprofit.) Von Furstenberg spoke with NEWSWEEK's Jessica Bennett. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: Why make a comic book?
Diane von Furstenberg: Isn't it fabulous? It could be ridiculous, but what's nice is that it gives a really empowering message: we all have a Wonder Woman inside us.
I take it you're a Wonder Woman fan?
I like her look, her character, what she stands for. And people, over the years, give me little Wonder Woman trinkets, a keychain, things like that. The moral of the [comic] is that whenever you feel weak or humiliated, go to the mirror and inside your own image you will find your strength.
Have you been through that in your own career?
The advantage I had starting out was that I was not part of a corporation, so I did not compare myself to men. My company is 97 percent women. I joke that the men here do the driving and the cleaning.
In such a grim economy, does fashion still matter?
Oh, God. Well, even if nobody bought anything, there would still be fashion. Fashion is how people express themselves. It doesn't mean luxury.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a very mysterious thing. I really think it's not fashion that influences the world, but what's in the street that influences fashion. It's a reflection of our time.
What did you think about the presidential candidates' fashion choices?
I thought that was such an exciting moment. Watching that has been the highlight of ... a while.
But who did you like?
Oh! Obama, of course. That's why it's been such an extraordinary moment.
How many wrap dresses have you sold?
Oh my God, millions, millions, millions.
What makes it such a classic?
In times of uncertainty, I think the wrap dress becomes an even more important friend. It's flattering. And wrapping is a reassuring thing.