Google commemorates the birth anniversary of Altina Schinasi, a trailblazing American artist, designer, and inventor who transformed the world of fashion and eyewear. Born in 1907 to immigrant parents in Manhattan, New York, Schinasi’s journey was nothing short of extraordinary, marked by creativity and determination.
Her passion for art ignited during her studies in Paris, where she explored the world of painting. Upon returning to New York, she honed her artistic skills at The Art Students League. However, fate had other plans for her artistic career when she took up window dressing on Fifth Avenue. This venture exposed her to the realm of design and led her to collaborate with influential artists like Salvador Dalí and George Grosz, expanding her creative horizons.
Schinasi’s iconic contribution to eyewear design, the Harlequin eyeglass frame, was born from her desire to offer stylish options for women. Inspired by the enchanting Harlequin masks of the Carnevale festival in Venice, she envisioned how their pointed edges could frame a woman’s face beautifully. Though faced with initial rejections, her determination paid off when a local shop owner recognized the brilliance of her design.
The Harlequin glasses swiftly became a sought-after fashion accessory during the late 1930s and 1940s, earning Schinasi the prestigious Lord & Taylor American Design Award in 1939. Her creations graced the pages of Vogue and Life, cementing her position as a true pioneer in eyewear fashion.
Schinasi’s creativity knew no bounds as she ventured into filmmaking, producing the acclaimed documentary “George Grosz’ Interregnum.” The film delved into the life and work of her mentor, George Grosz, earning an Academy Award nomination and winning first place at the Venice Film Festival.
Even in her later years, Schinasi continued to break new ground. She authored her memoir, “The Road I Have Traveled,” in 1995, offering an intimate glimpse into her extraordinary life and accomplishments. Her artistic passion extended beyond eyewear and film, leading her to invent unique portrait chairs and benches named Chairacters, showcasing her multifaceted talent as an artist and inventor.
Today, Altina’s cat-eye design remains a timeless and influential fashion trend worldwide. Her unwavering spirit and dedication to her vision have left an indelible mark on the fashion industry, inspiring generations of designers and artists to think boldly and embrace innovation. As we celebrate her birth anniversary, we honor Altina Schinasi’s legacy as a true visionary and creative trailblazer.