Diane von Furstenberg at her brand's headquarters. "Now everyone talks about authenticity and honesty," she says. "It's easy for me." MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Jesse Dittma
Diane von Furstenberg says she would have preferred to hire a woman to carry on her legacy as creative director, but it's OK: "I have a woman CEO.Photo for The Washington Post byJesse Dittmar

NEW YORK - After more than 45 years in fashion, Diane von Furstenberg has been looking for a graceful exit. She is 71, and she has designed a lot of frocks. But the one that matters most is the classic wrap dress, a few yards of slinky jersey that manage to flatter not all but most figures. It's not cheap, but it isn't terribly expensive. It has a knack for being appropriate in a multitude of situations. And it comes with its own empowering narrative: that women can have dominion over their own reality with a single sexy, authoritative dress.

That's a heck of a lot more than most fashion brands have done for women.

The dress landed her on the cover of Newsweek in 1976. It made von Furstenberg - who married and divorced a European prince and dazzled this city's disco society - even richer and more famous. It gave her independence.

But now, von Furstenberg is ready to be done with fashion. "I don't want to do another color palette," she says. "I've had three acts. The first was the American Dream, the young girl coming to New York, the wrap dress, blah, blah, blah. The second: I started over. Now, I've been thinking, now is the time for the third act. How do I turn this into a legacy, so the legacy will last after me?"

The cultural powerhouse known as DVF has a new goal. "I became an icon," von Furstenberg says. "Now I want to be an oracle."

-The Washington Post