Who Was Altina Schinasi? The Woman Behind The Iconic Cat-Eye Frames

By | August 4, 2023

Altina Schinasi was an American designer who revolutionized the eyeglass industry with her trendy cat-eye frames. Her innovative designs left an indelible mark on fashion and continue to inspire eyewear trends to this day.

Who Was Altina Schinasi?

Altina Schinasi was born in New York City in 1907 to a family of Turkish-Jewish descent. She grew up in a culturally rich environment, surrounded by art, music, and literature. Her father, Morris Schinasi, was a successful tobacco magnate, which provided her with financial support and opportunities.

Altina attended the Art Students League of New York and later studied sculpture in Paris. After returning to New York, she worked as a sculptor, painter, and filmmaker. However, it was her foray into eyewear design that would elevate her to legendary status.


The Cat-Eye Frame

Inspired by the glamorous and alluring women of the silver screen, Altina designed eyeglasses that captured the essence of their beauty. In the 1940s, she introduced the iconic cat-eye frames, characterized by their upswept outer edges and bold, exaggerated style. These frames quickly gained popularity among Hollywood stars and fashion enthusiasts, becoming a symbol of elegance and sophistication.

The Impact of Cat-Eye Frames


Altina Schinasi’s cat-eye frames were a fashion sensation, defying conventional eyewear norms of the time. The distinct shape and glamorous allure of the frames made them a statement accessory, empowering women with confidence and style. The eyeglasses complemented various face shapes, making them universally appealing.

As cat-eye frames became a cultural phenomenon, Altina’s designs adorned the faces of influential personalities and fashion icons. They appeared in magazines, movies, and advertisements, solidifying their position in the world of fashion and pop culture.

Legacy and Influence


Altina Schinasi’s creative vision left a lasting legacy. Even decades after her designs emerged, cat-eye frames remain an iconic symbol of retro-chic fashion. Fashion designers and eyewear brands continue to draw inspiration from her work, reinventing and modernizing the classic cat-eye silhouette.

The influence of Altina Schinasi extends beyond fashion. Her passion for the arts and advocacy for social causes also left a significant impact. Throughout her life, she supported various charitable endeavors, contributing to the betterment of society.

Altina Schinasi was a visionary artist and designer who made a lasting impact on the world of fashion and eyewear. Her cat-eye frames are an iconic symbol of feminine empowerment and confidence, and her work continues to inspire and resonate with the world.


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