Celebrating the first African American Cover Girl Katiti Kironde

Meet the woman who paved the way for Michelle Obama, Beverly Johnson and Tyra Banks

We were all very excited earlier this year to see our lovely First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover of Vogue. But back in the day an African American woman gracing the cover of a top fashion magazine was just not done. That is until Glamour magazine broke with convention by putting Katiti Kironde on their August 1968 College Issue.

On Friday October 9th, Ms. Kironde’s daughter Mireille Schwartz hosted a reception to honor her mother and celebrate the 41st anniversary of that landmark issue in fashion magazine history. Local chic elites gathered in the garden of Ms. Schwartz’s San Francisco home sipping cocktails and chatting with Ms. Kironde who hails from Connecticut.

"I keep fine company," Ms. Kironde said in a brief speech referring to the earlier announcement of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. "It's me and Obama."

The daughter of the Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Kironde was a college student in 1968. A beautiful and tall young woman, she was encouraged by family friend and editor-in-chief of Mademoiselle magazine to apply for Glamour’s Top Ten Best Dressed College Girls. No one was more surprised than Ms. Kironde when she won and was placed on the cover of Glamour. “That was the single biggest selling issue at the time and since,” she shared. “I received a lot of nasty notes.

Ms. Schwartz says she’s touched by people’s interest and support of her mother and this momentous occasion. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris called earlier in the day congratulating Ms. Schwartz and her mother and thanking them for celebrating such a milestone event for African-Americans. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown stopped by, looking dapper as usual. Other stylish attendees included Joy Venturini Bianchi, Merla Zellerbach, Karen Tamblyn, and Joel Goodrich.

Congratulations Ms. Kironde. You’ll always be our favorite cover girl!

Moya Stone is a contributing writer for SFBayStyle

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