Altina Schinasi: A Life Less Ordinary

Altina Schinasi (1907-1999) wasn’t your typical socialite. This  American artist, designer, sculptor, inventor, and entrepreneur  carved a unique path through the 20th century, leaving her mark on the worlds of art, film, and design.

Biography of Altina Schinasi

Born: 4 August 1907, New York, New York, United States
Died: 19 August 1999 (age 92 years), Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
Movies: Altina, George Grosz’ Interregnum, Operation Bootstrap
Spouse: Celestino Miranda (m. 1981–1999)
Children: Terry Sanders, Denis Sanders
Grandchildren: Peter Sanders, Victoria Sanders
Parents: Morris Schinasi, Laurette Schinasi

From Manhattan Socialite to Artistic Visionary

Born into a wealthy New York family,  Altina Schinasi enjoyed a privileged upbringing. However, her curiosity and creativity extended beyond the social scene. She studied art in Paris and New York, honing her skills in sculpture and painting.  Schinasi’s artistic pursuits weren’t limited to traditional mediums.  She embraced new technologies, even experimenting with filmmaking in the early days of the medium.

The Birth of an Icon: The “Harlequin Eyeglass Frame”

In 1959,  Altina Schinasi invented the design that would bring her the most recognition: the “Harlequin eyeglass frame,”  popularly known today as  cat-eye glasses. Inspired by the bold makeup choices of silent film actresses,  Schinasi designed these frames to be both stylish and functional. The  cat-eye glasses quickly became a cultural phenomenon, adopted by celebrities and fashion icons alike. Schinasi’s  invention transcended mere function, becoming a symbol of femininity and empowerment.

A Legacy of Innovation and Philanthropy

Altina Schinasi’s contributions extended far beyond cat-eye glasses.  She was a prolific sculptor, creating works that explored themes of nature and humanity. Schinasi also dabbled in window dressing,  inventing innovative displays for major retailers.  Throughout her life,  Schinasi remained a passionate philanthropist, supporting various art institutions and social causes.

A Life Full of Surprises

Altina Schinasi lived a life full of surprises.  At the age of 74, she married her long-time friend Celestino Miranda. Schinasi  continued to work and create well into her 90s, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of innovation and artistic expression.

Today,  Altina Schinasi  is remembered not just for the  cat-eye glasses that revolutionized eyewear, but for her boundless creativity and her unwavering spirit.  Schinasi’s  life story serves as an inspiration to all who dare to pursue their passions and leave their unique mark on the world.


Altina Schinasi was a true Renaissance woman, a force of creative energy who defied expectations and left her mark on multiple artistic disciplines. Her legacy extends far beyond the  cat-eye glasses that adorn countless faces today.  Schinasi  was a sculptor, filmmaker, inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, a testament to the boundless potential of the human spirit.  Her life story serves as an inspiration to embrace curiosity, explore different creative avenues, and leave a lasting positive impact on the world.


What is Altina Schinasi best known for?

Altina Schinasi is most well-known for inventing the  Harlequin eyeglass frame,  popularly known today as  cat-eye glasses.  This design became a cultural phenomenon, adopted by celebrities and fashion icons, and remains a popular style choice today.

What other artistic pursuits did Altina Schinasi have?

Schinasi  was a sculptor, creating works that explored themes of nature and humanity.  She also experimented with filmmaking in the early days of the medium and dabbled in window dressing,  inventing innovative displays for major retailers.

When did Altina Schinasi invent cat-eye glasses?

Altina Schinasi  invented the  Harlequin eyeglass frame  in 1959.

Was Altina Schinasi just known for cat-eye glasses?

Absolutely not!  Schinasi’s  contributions extended far beyond this one invention.  She was a prolific and multifaceted artist who left her mark on various creative fields.

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Written by

Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton, a seasoned fashion and lifestyle expert, seamlessly blends elegance with contemporary trends. With a keen eye for style, she navigates the ever-evolving world of fashion, offering readers a unique perspective on the latest trends, beauty tips, and lifestyle inspirations. Join Kate on a journey of sophistication and glamour.