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The Cat Eye - From Vintage to Modern

Brian Vallario

Posted on September 18 2017

For every frame, we experiment with ideas, both old and new. The potential for the cat eye is extensive, and we have attempted to modify and modernize the distinctive vintage shape.

Also known as Manhattan or Harlequin, the iconic designs from the 1950s were adored by celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Dinah Manoff and Audrey Hepburn. A sheer contrast to the functional, round and simpler designs up to then, the cat eye became a fashion statement for the “modern” women, and quickly spread among the Beehive generation.

Design wise, the cat eye is distinctive for the upsweeps at the outer edges. In the early days, the frames were typically thinner and the edges often extended over the faceline, accentuating the feminine eyes and eyelashes.

Today, the cat-eye has evolved in various design directions without losing its classical charm, with more variations on the thickness and size of the frames. Similarly, we at Lowercase have taken the concept into new territories.  

One of our most popular designs, Steeplechase is a sharp yet playful take on the cat eye. It pairs a bold frame with a more subtle color palette for a sharp and sophisticated look.

Another favorite in our latest capsule sun collection, Grove is more distinctive with its square lenses set in a tapering frame. The dramatic geometric cat eye evokes old Hollywood glamour.

Last not least, the classical Cooper is a modern update on the classic cat eye, featuring a subtly curved brow and stacked end pieces, featured here in our playful white tortoise colorway.

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