The Evolution Of The Cat Eye

By : Athina

The Evolution Of The

Cat Eye






The Cat Eye design was initially created to be used with optical lenses and has its roots way back; almost a century ago! Since then it has left its own footprint in the history of fashion and glasses and it has not lost its uniqueness and elegance over the yearsBut how the first Cat Eyes were created; How has this model evolved over the years?


The first evidence occured in the 1930s when the American sculptor, director and businessman Altina Schinasi designed the first frame named Harlequin (what was later renamed Cat Eye). At that time, Schinasi visited an optician’s laboratory and realized that women's glasses had no style and were not elegant at all. So, she decided to lay the groundwork for the fashion of glasses. Inspired by the Venice masks, she created the first Cat eye frame. This pioneering idea was at first rejected by many companies until she finally managed to get her idea accepted by a glasses boutique in New York.


Altina Schinasi





In the 50s many Hollywood starlets would make appearances wearing Cat Eye frames. Among them Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. But it was in the 60s that this style gained popularity, especially with the introduction of coloured lenses. Many times iwould be combined with the beehive hairstyle; in that hairstyle, the long hair is piled up high in a conical shape, forming a large volume, giving resemblance to the shape of beehive. 



Marilyn Monroe                                                                                                               Grace Kelly






The design gained commercial success when Audrey Hepburn wore them to the very well-known movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961. In that iconic film Holly Golightly (Audrey’s character) was spotted a few times wearing The Manhattans; a pair of Cat Eye sunglasses designed by the British Eyewear brand Oliver Goldsmith. Till that time the frame’s shape was small and with sharp edges, reminding the feline’s eye shape, hence the name Cat Eye. That is the feature that has remained unchanged throughout the frame’s evolution since it is the central idea of the design.


Audrey Hepburn


So, the 1950s and 1960s were decisive to establish the Cat Eye in fashion history. In fact, it was considered the first frame which was exclusively made for women. Originally, the Cat Eye frame had small lenses and the shape was exaggerated. A good example of that would be Barry Humphries and his fabulous character Dame Edna Everage, as appeared in the 1978’s musical film Grease.


Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage 




After the influence of the hippies in the 1970s, the Cat Eye frame evolved in many variations and became larger in size and also rounder something that remains to this very day. 


In contrast to the past, Cat Eye frames of today have a more subtle, chic and elegant approach and are available in many variations from thicker dark or coloured frames to thinner, more playful ones to flatter any type of face shape. A few examples of female celebrities that wore them are Olivia Palermo, Dita von Teese, Rihanna, Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga. 



Lady Gaga                                                                                                    Scarlett Johansson


Beyonce                                                                                                                               Olivia Palermo


Rihanna                                                                                           Taylor Swift 


Although this particular frame has been traditionally considered a feminine fashion accessory, in recent days it is becoming more and more popular among men as well. As of today, fashion is more gender fluid and that makes the world prettier! The Cat Eye is a fashionable must-have accessory for everyone; It has no need for "Woman-Man" or "Female-Male" labels anymore. 




Vanity Forbes Model                                                                                              Joom’s Model                                                          



                                                      Niima Melusi Boa- Fashion Blogger 




Evidently, the Cat Eye has been a milestone in the history of fashion and it has become a source of inspiration for many designers through the years. The last ten years fashion has been continuously inspired by the aesthetics of the 50s and 60s. This fact has brought back many designs from the past in a more modern twist.


Sounds interesting, right?

Checkout our Cat Eyes below



Amelia - Joel Sunglasses                                                                           Zoe - Joel Sunglasses


Cleona Tortoise - Joel Sunglasses                                                      Cleona Black - Joel Sunglasses




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