Behind Oprah’s Buzzy September Cover

O's creative director talks wild hair, keeping things fresh

She’s got a new movie opening next week, but it’s Oprah Winfrey’s latest magazine cover that’s getting all the buzz on social media.

The cover of the just-published September issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (also editor Lucy Kaylin’s first issue), features the TV icon with an entirely new look—donning a wild, nearly four-pound wig.

As of Wednesday morning, Winfrey's cover reveal on her official Instagram account had achieved more than 77,000 likes, while a tweet in which she announced she loved the cover so much she was making it her avatar garnered nearly 1,000 retweets and another 1,000 favorites.

According to O creative director Adam Glassman, the inspiration behind the cover began with the issue’s "hair" theme. “Let’s face it: Women are obsessed with their hair, and every time we do a fun hair moment with Oprah it causes a commotion,” said Glassman, referencing last year's September cover in which Winfrey debuted her own, natural 'do.

After going through several initial concepts for this year's look (the now-famous Afro, it turns out, was nearly a ponytail), Glassman pitched the giant wig to Winfrey. “She said, ‘Love it—let’s do it!’ immediately,” he recalled. “And the moment we had the shot, we knew this was going to be the cover.”

Still, Glassman said he had no idea it would be this big a deal. He calls the photo his "'90s Avedon/Versace moment.”

Finding such fresh cover ideas is especially challenging without the usual rotating cast of cover stars, Glassman admits. “We have the same face every month. … We’re very conscious of that. You have to make each cover feel completely new and fresh on the newsstand so people don’t think they’ve already bought that one.”

The cover is sure to grab everybody's attention at the supermarket checkout—which O needs to do. According to just-released data from the Association for Audited Media, the Hearst title's single-copy circ dropped 22.7 percent in the first half of 2013 versus the same period last year, joining other women's titles that are experiencing soft newsstand sales at the moment.

How will Glassman follow up such a monster hit? He said he is already cooking up ideas with Kaylin, adding, "We have a few fun ideas up our sleeves.”