Photography by Eric Levin
Katiti won Glamour Magazine’s "Top 10 Best Dressed College Girls" competition and became the first African American woman to grace the cover of a major American fashion magazine.
The year was 1968 and Katiti was a Freshman at Harvard. The issue was not only a milestone for the then 30-year-old Glamour Magazine. Kironde’s Glamour issue remains the magazine’s best-selling issue of all time. “Firsts” seem to run in the family. Katiti’s mother was the first Black woman to attend Central School of Art in London, now called, Central St. Martin’s School.
“She passed away when I was 7 but I remember her and my Dad dressing for formal parties and balls in Uganda. She left me her sewing machine and I began to stitch my first designs on her machine.”
The daughter of a Ugandan diplomat, her late father, Apollo Kironde, was a former ambassador to the UN and a pioneer in that country’s struggle for independence. After graduating from Harvard, Katiti pursued a career in fashion–spending the next 30 years on the design and production side of the industry. She eventually launched her own clothing line, Katiti, offering a selection of the perfect white shirt. She pioneered the first-ever introductory seminar on fashion for Harvard Freshmen in 2010, and over the years she has mentored Harvard/Radcliffe students who are interested in fashion.
“As I grow older I realize that the Golden Rule is really the mantra to live by: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Katiti is president of the Kironde Health and Education Fund; a nonprofit organization, named for father. The fund works to ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children can have access to such basic things as clean water, medicine and an education. She is also on the board of Melange, an organization that celebrates diversity through fashion and the arts.