Altina Schinasi: Unveiling the Iconic ‘Cat-Eye’ Eyeglass Frame Designer Celebrated by Google Doodle

On Friday (August 4th), Google Doodle celebrated the life of American designer Altina Schinasi. She is best known for her trendy ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frame designs. In honor of Altina’s 116th birthday, the celebration Google Doodle featured her wearing her recognizable and ageless cat-eye glasses, expressing her unique style and influence on the design world.

Altina came into the world on August 4, 1907, in the heart of Manhattan, New York, to parents who had journeyed from a distant land in search of new opportunities. Altina’s creative expedition led her from the bustling streets of Manhattan to the effervescent art community of Paris, a city that fueled her passion for painting even more.

Altina Schinasi: Unveiling the Iconic 'Cat-Eye'

Born in 1907 in America to Jewish parents, Altina received her early education at home before leaving her family to attend the Horace Mann School. At the age of 12, she moved to Dana Hall School in Massachusetts to pursue her education.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Altina’s mother took her to Paris, where she studied painting with her cousin, Rene Ben Sussan. During her time with Ben Sussan, her appreciation for art deepened. When she got back to New York, she went back to the Museum of Modern Art and studied with Samuel Helper.

Altina Schinasi: Unveiling the Iconic 'Cat-Eye'                 Altina Schinasi: Unveiling the Iconic 'Cat-Eye'

From learning the ropes of design to her prestigious ‘cat-eye’ frame creation:

After learning design, Altina’s first job was with Peter Copeland, where she worked on a project designing windows for Fifth Avenue stores. It was during this job that she found herself dissatisfied with the dull frames she encountered in an optician’s window. This led her to experiment with creating romantic and whimsical designs.

There must be a way to design eyeglasses that are attractive! What looks good on the face? What complements the face? What can a woman wear on her face that is romantic?” she wondered.

Altina chose the Harlequin mask as an initial inspiration and began cutting the mask into the frames she had imagined. Once she established production and negotiated deals with departmental stores, she opened an office where she managed marketing and distribution.

Altina Schinasi: Unveiling the Iconic 'Cat-Eye'

In 1939, Altina won the prestigious Lord and Taylor Annual American Design Award for transforming eyeglass frames into a proper fashion accessory.

Her later life saw her filing several patents for her inventions in the design field. However, her most enduring legacy remains the ‘cat-eye’ frame or the glamorous frame, which she designed and marketed in the late 1930s.

Google Doodle celebrated Altina Schinasi’s contributions to the world of design and her iconic ‘cat-eye’ frames on her 116th birthday.

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