Google is celebrating the life of Altina Schinasi, an American artist, designer, and inventor most known for designing the Harlequin eyeglass frame — known today as the widely popular “cat-eye” eyeglass frame. Schinasi was born on August 4, 1907, in Manhattan, New York to immigrant parents. Her mother was a native of Salonica (then in the Ottoman Empire) and her father was a Sephardic Jewish Turk.
Schinasi studied art in Paris and worked as a window display designer before moving into eyewear design. She was inspired to create the cat-eye frame after seeing the Harlequin masks worn during the Carnevale festival in Venice, Italy. She found the pointed edges of the masks to be flattering to the face, and she adapted this design into her eyeglass frames.
Schinasi’s cat-eye frames were initially rejected by major manufacturers, who thought they were too edgy. However, she eventually found a local shop owner who was willing to give her an exclusive design for six months. The frames were a hit, and they soon became popular all over the world.
Schinasi’s cat-eye frames have been worn by celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly. They have also been featured in films such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Breakfast Club.”
Today, the cat-eye frame is still a popular style of eyewear. It is often seen as a symbol of glamour and sophistication. Google’s Doodle, which features Schinasi’s face encased in a pair of cat-eye glasses, is a fitting tribute to this pioneering designer.