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Celebrating Altina ‘Tina’ Schinasi: The Visionary Artist Behind the Iconic Cat-Eye Eyeglass Frames

4 Aug’23, ON THIS DAY

On August 4th, Google Doodle pays tribute to Altina ‘Tina’ Schinasi, an exceptional American artist and inventor renowned for her groundbreaking contributions to the world of fashion and film. As we celebrate what would have been her 116th birthday, let’s delve into the life and achievements of this remarkable individual whose innovative spirit left an indelible mark on eyewear design and cinematic art.

Altina Schinasi 1924 (1907-1999)
Altina Schinasi 1924 (1907-1999). Courtesy: Helen Temple Cooke Library

A Creative Journey from Manhattan to Paris

Altina Schinasi, born to immigrant parents in Manhattan, New York, on August 4, 1907, embarked on a creative odyssey that spanned continents and artistic domains. Her early artistic inclinations led her to the vibrant streets of Paris, where she honed her skills and set the stage for her illustrious career.

The Fusion of Fashion and Art

Upon her return to the United States, Schinasi’s artistic evolution took an unexpected turn as she ventured into the world of fashion. Her experience as a window dresser for prestigious Fifth Avenue stores provided her with a unique perspective on design and aesthetics. This serendipitous foray into fashion ignited her creativity and paved the way for her iconic contributions to eyewear.

The Best Cat-Eye Eyeglasses Frames of 2022 – SOJOS
Courtesy: sojos

The Birth of an Iconic Design: Cat-Eye Frames

One pivotal moment in Schinasi’s journey came when she recognized a gap in the market for stylish and bold eyewear choices for women. Fuelled by her artistic vision, Schinasi drew inspiration from the harlequin masks adorning the faces of revelers at Venice, Italy’s enchanting Carnevale festival. These masks, characterized by their distinct and alluring shapes, sparked an idea that would revolutionize eyewear.

Schinasi’s concept was daring and innovative: why not translate the captivating geometry of the harlequin masks into eyeglass frames? She envisioned that the dramatic and elongated cat-eye shape would beautifully complement a woman’s features, accentuating the eyes and exuding an air of mystery and sophistication.

Shop Subtle & Dramatic Cat-Eye Glasses | Collections | Yesglasses
Courtesy: yesglasses

Overcoming Adversity: Turning Vision into Reality

While Schinasi’s idea was revolutionary, it encountered initial resistance from established eyewear manufacturers. Undeterred by these setbacks, Schinasi persisted, driven by her unwavering belief in the potential of her design. Her determination caught the attention of a local retailer who recognized the uniqueness and allure of the cat-eye frames. This pivotal partnership marked the turning point that allowed Schinasi’s vision to materialize into a transformative fashion statement.

A Renaissance Woman: Filmmaker and Beyond

Altina Schinasi’s artistic journey was not confined to the realm of fashion; she extended her creative prowess into the world of filmmaking. In 1960, she directed the documentary “George Grosz Interregnum,” a poignant exploration of the life and art of George Grosz, her former mentor and a prominent artist. The documentary garnered widespread acclaim and earned Schinasi a prestigious Academy Award nomination. Her remarkable achievement reached its zenith when the documentary claimed the coveted top spot at the Venice Film Festival, solidifying her status as a multifaceted artistic force.

Legacy and Influence

Altina Schinasi’s legacy is a testament to the power of innovation, resilience, and creative exploration. Her iconic cat-eye eyeglass frames, born from a fusion of art and fashion, continue to captivate and adorn individuals seeking to make a bold statement. Schinasi’s indomitable spirit and boundary-pushing designs have left an indelible imprint on the world of eyewear and beyond.


As we celebrate Altina ‘Tina’ Schinasi’s 116th birthday through the vibrant canvas of a Google Doodle, we honor her as a visionary artist and inventor whose contributions transcended conventional boundaries. Her journey from Manhattan to Paris, from fashion to film, and from adversity to triumph, inspires us to embrace our creative instincts and push the limits of artistic innovation. Altina Schinasi’s cat-eye frames not only framed the eyes but also framed a legacy of creativity that continues to illuminate the artistic landscape.

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