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Skirt

From the Collection of Brighton Historical Society First Floor Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre (Old Brighton Town Hall) Corner Carpenter and Wilson Streets Brighton Victoria

Description
Ankle-length full cream linen skirt with multi-coloured cross stitch embroidery featuring mountains, birds and trees. Fullness is pleated into wide waist band. Left side opening. The fabric widths have been whipped together by hand probably at the time the cloth was woven in the late-nineteenth century. The skirt is machine stitched.
Object Registration
T0060
Keywords
skirt, linen, hand woven, embroidery, ithaca, migration, greek diaspora, olga black
Historical information
This skirt belonged to Olga Black, a long-time Brighton resident. The linen used for the skirt were woven by Olga's great-grandmother Efstathia in the late-nineteenth century with flax grown on the island of Ithaca. In the 1950s, Olga made the fabric into a skirt, embellishing it with hand embroidery.

Olga Maria Black was born in Melbourne in 1930, the daughter of Ithacan migrants Constantine and Toula Mavrokefalos.

Constantine first emigrated to Australia in 1902, returning to Greece circa 1912-13 to serve his home country in the Balkan Wars. Toula's family had left Ithaca for Romania when she was only six months old, but she happened to be visiting the island at the very time that Constantine arrived, fresh from the war. Within three weeks they were married, and when Constantine returned to Melbourne in 1914 his new bride came with him.

Constantine had trained as an accountant, but his qualifications were not recognised in Australia. Changing his surname to the Anglicised "Black", he started off working in his older brother Dionysios's cafés before going into business on his own. In 1917 he opened the Paris Residential Café at 54-56 Swanston Street, which offered both dining and accommodation. The business saw some years of success, but did not survive the Great Depression. Constantine died in 1944.

Olga's mother Toula learned to sew as a child, while growing up in the Romanian village of Brila. She developed her skills making lace and embroidering items for her trousseau. Some of the linen she embroidered had been woven from flax on Ithaca by her own grandmother, Efstathia. During the Depression, when money was scarce, Toula embroidered at home, doing work for a factory in Flinders Lane. Using a cotton reel, a threepence and a sixpence she created and embroidered designs on hundreds of blouses. Olga spent her preschool days sitting at the table where her mother worked. Toula would involve Olga by allowing her to help choose the colour combinations. Toula lived with Olga in Brighton until her death in 1976.

Olga inherited her mother's sewing skills. She re-invented some of Toula’s trousseau nightdresses and skilfully altered other clothing, making dresses which she wore around Brighton for many years.
When Made
late-nineteenth century & 1950s
Made By
Olga Black (Maker), Efstathia (donor's great-grandmother) (Maker)
Last updated
14 Aug 2019 at 8:45PM