Google Doodle celebrates Altina Schinasi, designer of iconic ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frame

Google Doodle celebrates Altina Schinasi, designer of iconic ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frame

On August 4, the Google search engine commemorated the 116th birthday of Altina Schinasi, an extraordinary American designer renowned for revolutionizing the world of eyewear with her iconic ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frame. Born in 1907 to immigrant parents in Manhattan, New York, Schinasi’s artistic journey took her from the bustling streets of Manhattan to the vibrant art scene of Paris. Throughout her life, she exhibited an unwavering passion for painting and a visionary approach to design.

A Creative Journey:

Altina Schinasi’s artistic pursuits began after she completed her high school education, whereupon she ventured to Paris, immersing herself in the city’s thriving art culture. During her time as a window dresser for several prominent stores along Fifth Avenue, Schinasi had the privilege of collaborating with and learning from influential artists such as Salvador Dalí and George Grosz, who significantly influenced her creative vision.

The Birth of an Iconic Design:

As a window display designer, Schinasi noticed that women’s eyeglasses lacked stylish options and were confined to round, uninspired frames. Driven by her artistic instincts, she envisioned a fresh and unique eyeglass design inspired by the alluring shape of Harlequin masks worn during the Carnevale festival in Venice, Italy.

Schinasi’s innovation involved creating pointed eyeglass frames that accentuated and flattered the wearer’s face, now famously known as the ‘cat-eye’ design. Despite facing multiple rejections from major manufacturers who considered her creation unconventional, she persisted and eventually found success when a local shop owner recognized the potential of her design and signed an exclusive agreement.

Fashion Sensation and Recognition:

The introduction of the ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frames caused a sensation among women in the late 1930s and 1940s in the United States. Its unique and flattering style became a trend that resonated with women of all ages. In 1939, Schinasi’s innovative contribution to the fashion world was recognized with the prestigious Lord & Taylor American Design Award.

Esteemed publications such as Vogue and Life applauded her groundbreaking design, solidifying her status as a visionary in the fashion industry. The ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frames became an enduring symbol of sophistication and elegance.

Beyond Fashion: Exploring Filmmaking and Art Therapy:

Altina Schinasi’s creative talents extended beyond fashion design. She delved into filmmaking, producing a compelling documentary titled “George Grosz’ Interregnum,” paying homage to her former teacher, the renowned artist George Grosz. The movie was loved by many and got praised a lot. Because of this, the actress in the film was nominated for an Academy Award, and the movie itself won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1960.

As the years passed, Schinasi continued to explore new artistic pursuits. In her later life, she penned her memoir, “The Road I Have Traveled,” providing a glimpse into her extraordinary life journey. Additionally, she dedicated her time as an art therapist, using her creative abilities to help others find healing and expression through art.

Legacy and Influence:

Altina Schinasi’s visionary ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass design has stood the test of time and remains influential in the fashion world even nearly a century after its inception. Her groundbreaking contributions continue to inspire designers and shape accessory trends worldwide.


Altina Schinasi’s life and achievements are a testament to her creative brilliance and pioneering spirit. Google’s celebration of her 116th birthday through its Doodle honors a visionary designer whose ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frames not only left an indelible mark on the fashion industry but also showcased her dedication to art and helping others through her artistic pursuits. Her legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of designers and artists.

Who is Altina Schinasi?

Altina Schinasi, a versatile and creative American, wore many hats throughout her life. She was a sculptor, filmmaker, entrepreneur, window dresser, designer, and inventor. Among her various creations, one stood out—the famous “Harlequin eyeglass frame,” more commonly known as “Cat-Eye” glasses.

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