Altina ‘Tina’ Schinasi’s creative journey began when she observed the limited options for women’s eyeglasses, which were predominantly round and mundane. Her innovative spirit led her to envision a fresh and daring design inspired by the Harlequin masks, characterized by their pointed edges, as seen during the Carnevale festival in Venice, Italy.
Despite facing resistance from major manufacturers who deemed her design too edgy, Schinasi remained persistent. She approached a local shop owner who recognized the potential of her unique frames, and they quickly gained popularity. The success of the Harlequin glasses brought her much publicity and acclaim.
In 1939, Altina Schinasi was honored with the prestigious Lord & Taylor American Design Award for her revolutionary eyeglass invention. Major magazines like Life and Vogue featured her creation, solidifying its place as a sought-after fashion accessory among women.
Schinasi’s artistic pursuits extended beyond eyeglasses. She delved into the world of filmmaking, producing a documentary by her former teacher George Grosz, titled “George Grosz’s Interregnum,” which received an Academy Award nomination and won first place at the Venice Film Festival.
Not content with just designing glasses, Altina explored different artistic avenues. She authored her memoir titled “The Road I Have Traveled” in 1995, providing insight into her life and creative journey.
Additionally, she dedicated time as an art therapist, using her artistic skills to help others find healing and expression. Her passion for creativity knew no bounds, leading her to invent unusual portrait benches and chairs known as “Chairacters,” showcasing her imaginative and whimsical approach to design.
Altina Schinasi’s legacy continues to endure, with her cat-eye design remaining a timeless and iconic trend in the world of fashion accessories. Her innovative spirit, artistic versatility, and determination serve as an inspiration to aspiring artists and designers to this day. Through her contributions, she left an indelible mark on the art and fashion industries, shaping the way women express their style and individuality through eyewear.