Altina Schinasi Designer: Glamour, Shades, and Celebs: How Feline Frames Ruled the 50s & 60s Fashion Scene, Purr-fectly!
Google’s got its party hats on for Altina ‘Tina’ Schinasi, a true-blue American artist, inventor, and design whiz. They’re throwing a virtual shindig on August 4th to celebrate her 116th birthday, and it’s all about the iconic ‘cat-eye’ eyeglass frame she dreamt up.
Back in the day, 1907 to be exact, Schinasi came into the world in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, New York. The lowdown, straight from the Google Doodle blog, spills the beans on her immigrant parentage. Now, brace yourself for the pièce de résistance – the Harlequin eyeglass frame. Yeah, the same one is now known as the ‘cat-eye’ frame.
But hold on; there’s more to the tale; Schinasi had a patent party going on for a bunch of other inventions while juggling her artistry and even producing documentaries. Quite the multi-talented maverick, if you ask us.
Get this – her mom hailed from Salonia, a nook in the Ottoman Empire, while her pop was the Sephardic Jewish Turk. Post-high school capers led her to Paris for some painting escapades, and her love for arts got ignited.
Back in the US, New York’s Art Students League was her next stop, and she got her kicks as a window dresser along ritzy Fifth Avenue. That’s where the real plot twist kicks in – mingling with artsy bigwigs like Salvador Dalí and George Grosz, like, whoa!
Hold your horses because here comes the juicy tidbit. The ‘cat-eye’ spark ignited in her noggin while playing window display maestro. She clocked that lady specs were just plain vanilla back in the day, and that was a no-go for Schinasi.
Venice’s Carnevale festival and its snazzy Harlequin masks became her muse, and BAM – those pointed edges were all the rage. Paper cutouts paved the way for her genius frame design.
But guess what? Her creation was shunned by the bigwigs, who thought it was a bit too wild for their taste. No sweat, no surrender; a local shop champ hitched a ride on her vision train and nabbed an exclusive deal. Harlequin glasses became an overnight sensation, putting Schinasi on the map big time.
Zooming through the ages, the ’40s saw these bad boys becoming a must-have fashion fiesta.
Schinasi even snagged the Lord & Taylor Design Award in ’39, and big shots like Vogue and Life gave her a nod. And hold onto your seats – she wasn’t just a glasses gal. She dabbled in movies, dropping a documentary bomb about her mentor George Grosz in 1960. Oscar nominations and Venice Film Festival high-fives followed suit.
Fast forward to her twilight years, and she’s jotting down her escapades in ‘The Road I Have Travelled’ (1995). Oh, and art therapy? Totally her jam. Not to mention, she also cooked up these quirky portrait thrones she playfully named Chairacters.
Talk about leaving a legacy – the ‘cat-eye’ craze still paints the town red in the world of fashion nearly a century later.
Did you know?
Cat-eye sunglasses became a staple accessory for many iconic celebrities during the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the famous figures known for wearing cat-eye sunglasses include:
- Audrey Hepburn: The legendary actress and fashion icon often sported cat-eye sunglasses, contributing to their popularity. Her role as Holly Golightly in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” solidified her association with stylish eyewear.
- Marilyn Monroe: Another Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe, was frequently seen wearing cat-eye sunglasses, adding a touch of glamour to her already stunning looks.
- Grace Kelly: The elegant Grace Kelly, who later became the Princess of Monaco, was often photographed wearing cat-eye sunglasses, showcasing their appeal among royals and high society.
- Elizabeth Taylor: The iconic actress was known for her bold and distinctive style, and she embraced cat-eye sunglasses as part of her signature look.
- Sophia Loren: The Italian actress and international sex symbol of the era also embraced cat-eye sunglasses, enhancing her sultry and sophisticated image.
- Brigitte Bardot: The French actress, singer, and fashion icon was often seen wearing cat-eye sunglasses, adding to her allure and charm.
These celebrities, among others, contributed to the enduring popularity of cat-eye sunglasses and helped establish them as a timeless fashion statement.