Stories Organisations Projects About Login

Blouse

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
Cream silk short-sleeved blouse. Hand embroidered around inside of stand collar, centre front panel and sleeve edge in red, blue, black and green floral and geometric design.
Object Registration
T0096
Keywords
migration, ithaca, romania, olga black, toula mavrokefalos, toula black
Historical information
Silk blouse made by Toula Mavrokefalos, the mother of long-time Brighton resident Olga Black.

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.
Last updated
14 Aug 2019 at 8:52PM