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Altina Schinasi: The Artistic Vision Behind the Iconic 'Cat-Eye' Eyeglass Frame

Google celebrates the 116th birth anniversary of American designer Altina Schinasi who fabricated the famous ‘cat-eye’ frames and revolutionized the eyewear industry.

Shivangi Rai
Google Doodle today celebrates the life of US-based designer Altina Schinasi. (Image Courtesy- Google Doodle)
Google Doodle today celebrates the life of US-based designer Altina Schinasi. (Image Courtesy- Google Doodle)

Google Doodle on Friday honoured the legacy of Altina Schinasi, a designer based in the United States renowned for her iconic creation, the fashionable 'cat-eye' eyeglasses.

Commemorating her 116th birthday, Google presents a doodle that portrays Altina within the distinctive contours of a cat-eye eyeglass frame.

Born on August 4, 1907, in Manhattan, New York, Altina Schinasi's origins were rooted in the immigrant community. Her artistic journey commenced amidst the bustling streets of Manhattan and led her to the vibrant art enclaves of Paris, where her zeal for painting flourished.

Altina, born to Jewish parents in the U.S. in 1907, received her early education through home tutoring. Subsequently, she became a student at Horace Mann School, and at the tender age of twelve, she ventured to Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, to pursue her studies.

Following her graduation, Altina's path led her to Paris, guided by her mother. It was in this iconic city that Altina refined her painting skills under the guidance of her cousin, Rene Bensussan. Through her extended time with Bensussan, her passion for art deepened. Upon her return to New York, she further honed her craft under the guardianship of Samuel Halpert at the Roerich Museum.

From Designing Windows to Creating Iconic ‘Cat-eye’ Frames

Following her education in design, Altina's initial professional endeavor was with Peter Copeland. Collaborating on a project centered around crafting window displays for Fifth Avenue stores, Altina found herself working in the company of none other than Salvador Dali.

In the later chapters of her life, Altina's ingenuity manifested through numerous patents in the realm of design. Yet, her breakthrough moment arrived early in her career when she conceived and introduced the Harlequin eyeglass frame, more commonly known as the 'cat-eye' frame. This innovation, which captured the essence of glamour in the late 1930s, would become her hallmark.

Thus, Altina got the idea for unique eyeglass frames when she looked at boring frames in an eyeglass store. She didn't like how plain they were, so she decided to make frames that were more romantic and imaginative.

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