07/18/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT
People didn't give her much of a chance to replace Marion Barry. She came to the election a neophyte, the lawyer ex-wife of a city councilman. But Dixon took 87 percent of the vote last November to become the first black woman to head a major American city. The drama is by no means over, however. In May, when the capital was racked by rioting in a Hispanic area, Dixon personally trekked its angry streets. But establishing herself has complicated her relationship with businessman James R. Kelly III. "There's so much ceremony and security that he's like Prince Philip, back there somewhere," she has said, not suggesting that she seeks a frumpy QEH image: "If you're going to see yourself on television"—this a nod to the advice of designer daughter Aimee—"you want to give them the best shot you've got."