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Meet Altina Schinasi: The Visionary behind the Iconic Cat-Eye Frames, Celebrating Her 116th Birthday Today!

Once upon a time, there was a limited variety of eyeglass frames available in the market, but then came a time when cat-eye frames entered the scene and instantly captured people's hearts. Both women and men embraced this trendy frame, making it a style statement for many. You might have seen this type of frame somewhere, but do you know the visionary designer behind its creation? Well, it's none other than Altina Schinasi, a celebrated American artist, designer, and inventor. Altina is renowned worldwide for her iconic "cat-eye" eyeglass frame design, and today, Google is honoring her 116th birthday as Altina "Tina" Schinasi.

Altina was born on August 4, 1907, in Manhattan, New York. She attended high school there before pursuing her passion for painting in Paris. In Paris, Altina decided to forge a different path and eventually returned to New York, where she gained admission to The Art Students League, providing her with the opportunity to hone her skills. During her time in New York, Altina worked as a window dresser for various shops along Fifth Avenue. It was during this period that she had the chance to collaborate with renowned artists like Salvador Dali and George Grosz.

The inspiration for creating eyeglass frames struck Altina while working as a window display designer. She noticed the limited options available for women's eyeglass frames and conceived the idea of designing cat-eye frames. To create this unique frame, she drew inspiration from the Harlequin Mask worn during the Carnival Festival in Venice, Italy. Combining her artistic vision with this inspiration, she crafted a frame that became a favorite among people. Altina named this eyeglass frame the "Harlequin glasses."

Her innovative design brought a significant change to the world of fashion. In the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s, the Harlequin glasses became a beloved fashion statement for women in America. In recognition of her groundbreaking design, Altina was honored with the Lord & Taylor American Design Award in 1939. Her designs received widespread praise from popular magazines like Life and Vogue, further solidifying her reputation as a remarkable designer.

Altina Schinasi's creativity and contributions left a lasting impact on the world of eyewear and fashion, revolutionizing the way people viewed eyeglass frames. Today, her legacy lives on as her iconic cat-eye frames continue to inspire fashion trends and delight eyewear enthusiasts worldwide.

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