Katiti Kironde was an undergraduate at Harvard with an interest in fashion. She knew she was beautiful—she’d been told as much—but she also knew that her beauty was “different,” and not the kind celebrated by the fashion industry. She was black in a very white world—especially when it came to fashion. Then, she applied to Glamour’s “Best Dressed College Girls” contest (the name has has since been changed to “College Women Of The Year”) and won, earning her a spot on our cover and making history in the process. The August 1968 issue of Glamour magazine was the first ever American fashion magazine to feature an African-American woman on its cover, and the issue has since sold millions of copies.
Kironde went on to work for major fashion companies like TJ Maxx and Laura Ashley. She had her own line of crisp white button-downs, and later went back to Harvard to teach the university’s first-ever “Intro to Fashion” class.
Kironde sat down with Glamour’s own Kateri Benjamin to talk about how things have changed—or not—since 1968 on the latest episode of Work Wives. Looking back, Kironde is impressed with how far the fashion industry—and the whole culture—has come in accepting and promoting the idea of black beauty. While fashion still has a long way to go, diversity is on the forefront of many people’s minds; fifty years ago, it wasn’t even a conversation. Things were the way they were.
To hear more of Kateri and Katiti’s conversation—and learn about some other pioneering women our editors are obsessed with—listen to the “Women To Know” episode of our podcast, Work Wives.