May 19, 2015 01:00 PM

Every time Jane Fonda steps out on the red carpet, the Internet has a collective freak-out — the 77-year-old knows how to bring the sexy. Which is why it should come as no surprise that W magazine nabbed the actress and fitness guru for its June/July 2015 cover.

Courtesy W Magazine

In her cover story, which was shot by fashion photographer Steven Meisel, Fonda opens up about what it means to be a fashion icon, while serving up all sorts of #goals in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture, Elie Saab, Nina Ricci and Lanvin, among other designers.

“Truthfully, my relationship to fashion has always been strained,” she told W of her rocky beginnings with the industry. “When I was starting out as an actress in New York, I worked as a model because I needed to pay for acting classes. But I didn’t have what it took to be a model. I hated all the emphasis on how I looked, and I never paid much attention to clothes.”

It wasn’t until the 2000 Academy Awards, which Fonda attended in a custom Vera Wang creation, that she began to embrace her status among fashion’s leading ladies. “When I stepped out to present the award in my strapless satin dress and new haircut, there was an audible gasp. I thought: ‘Oh. Oh, this is new.’ I was so melancholy over Ted [Turner, Fonda’s ex-husband], and I realized in that moment that clothes mattered. They could change your mood in an instant. And I thought, I could do this.”

Courtesy W Magazine

Now she hopes to set a precedent for women of a certain age to embrace fashion — no matter the year they were born.

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“I think it’s a hoot that, at my age, people are calling me a fashion icon,” the star said. “I realized I didn’t have a lot of time left, and I wanted to pay more attention,” Fonda explained of her decision to step it up in the style department. “I had a vision: I wanted to give a cultural face to older women.”

Gisela Schober/German Select/Getty; Venturelli/Get

Um, note to Fonda: Your plan is working. Just look at her crushing it, above, at the Cannes Film Festival in a cut-out Atelier Versace gown. And then again in a black plunging sequined dress!

“I suppose I’ve always known what I like on my body,” she told the magazine. “I took one look at that Balmain jumpsuit [from the 2015 Grammy Awards], and I said, ‘That’s it!’ I’m best when I’m wearing something structured, with no frills or bows. Something that will show my waist and bum, because I’ve always had a good bum.”

Her words, not ours. Read more in W‘s June/July issue, which hits newsstands June 2.

What do you think of Fonda’s cover? Can you believe she’s 77? Sound off in the comments below!

–Sarah Kinonen

RELATED VIDEO: Jane Fonda: ‘I Don’t Consider Myself Beautiful’

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