“Altina Schinasi: A Visionary Trailblazer of Art, Fashion, and Philanthropy”

Last Updated: 4 August 2023By

She was an extraordinary American artist, designer, and the inventor of the cat-eye glasses, now being celebrated by Google Doodle.

Altina Schinasi, a remarkable American artist, designer, and inventor, was born on August 4, 1907, in a vibrant neighborhood in Manhattan, New York. Her illustrious life was adorned with accomplishments in art, film, entrepreneurship, and design across various creative fields. Altina is best remembered for her renowned creation, the “Harlequin eyeglass frame,” affectionately known as cat-eye glasses. Besides her design prowess, she was also the daughter of immigrant parents, leaving a lasting impact on her legacy.

Let’s delve into the captivating life and achievements of this visionary trailblazer. Today, Google honors the 116th birth anniversary of Altina Schinasi through a Google Doodle.

Early Life and Family Heritage:

Altina Schinasi’s roots were tied to her parents, Morris Schinasi, a Sephardic Jew from Monastir, Turkey, and Loretta Schinasi, formerly Ben Rubi, who was born in Thessaloniki when it was part of the Ottoman Empire. Growing up in a diverse and culturally rich environment, Altina was deeply influenced by her family background and experiences as an immigrant.

Artistic Journey and Entrepreneurship:

From a young age, Altina demonstrated immense talent and passion for art. She excelled as a painter, filmmaker, window dresser, and designer, earning recognition and praise for her unique artistic vision. Her most significant contribution in the world of fashion was the creation of the esteemed “Harlequin eyeglass frame,” which gained popularity as cat-eye glasses. This groundbreaking design earned her accolades and a permanent place in the history of eyewear fashion.


Altina’s entrepreneurial spirit shone through her various endeavors. She fearlessly explored different domains, breaking boundaries and challenging conventional norms. Her diverse talents and relentless creativity established her as a force in the world of design and innovation.

Philanthropy and Legacy:

Altina’s accomplishments extended far beyond her artistic pursuits. In 1928, following the passing of her father, Morris Schinasi, her mother Loretta embarked on a meaningful journey to Turkey, where she established the Morris Schinasi Orphan Asylum, also known as the Morris Schinasi Children’s Hospital. The hospital continues to provide essential medical care to children, serving as a testament to the Schinasi family’s philanthropy and dedication to helping others.

Recognition and Honors:

Throughout her lifetime, Altina Schinasi’s contributions to the worlds of art and film were celebrated and acknowledged. She received prestigious awards, including the American Design Award from Lord & Taylor, which attests to her influence in the realms of fashion and design. Additionally, her exceptional work as a filmmaker earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject), solidifying her place among eminent figures in the film industry.

A Lasting Legacy:

On August 19, 1999, at the age of 92, Altina Schinasi passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico, leaving behind a profound impact on the worlds of art, film, and design. Her enduring creativity, innovative spirit, and philanthropic efforts continue to inspire creative minds today.

Altina’s renowned “Harlequin eyeglass frame” remains a symbol of her simplicity, while her altruistic endeavors are a testament to the positive influence she had on others’ lives. As we celebrate her 116th birth anniversary on August 4, 2023, her legacy lives on, inspiring future generations to embrace creativity and pursue their passions with unwavering determination.