In August 1968, 18-year-old Katiti Kironde became the first woman of color on the cover of a major American fashion magazine.
That was a pivotal year, in fact, for women of color in mainstream media, as Naomi Sims -- often referred to as the first black supermodel --became Ladies' Home Journal's first African-American cover model in November 1968. Fashion bible Vogue wouldn't follow suit with its groundbreaking Beverly Johnson cover until August 1974.
The year prior to Kironde's historic cover, Ruth Whitney had taken over as Glamour's editor-in-chief and would hold the position for an astonishing 31 years. When she died in June 1999, The New York Times headlined her obituary "the Editor Who Made Glamour Relevant," and deservedly so. Under Whitney's guidance, the fashion magazine evolved into a progressive outlet for stories about reproductive rights, sexuality, workplace issues and other non-fashion-related interests. And it was Whitney who decided to update the magazine's annual best-dressed female college student contest to focus is more on the young women's academic achievements, which Harvard undergrad Katiti Kironde won.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1993, Whitney said of her decision to feature Kironde on the cover of that college contest issue:
And what of Kironde? She wasn't a one-magazine-hit wonder by any means. After graduating from Harvard, Kironde pursued a career in fashion and later launched an eponymous label specializing in white button-down shirts. Then in 2010, Kironde returned to her alma mater to achieve another first, teaching Harvard's first-ever freshman seminar on fashion, naturally.