Historical information

This swimsuit belonged to Audrey May Ferguson (nee Fulton), a longtime Brighton resident.

Ada of California was a Melbourne swimwear company founded in the early 1950s by Brighton locals Ada and Toni Murkies.

Born in Poland in 1922, Ada was 17 when the Second World War reached her doorstep. She and her family were torn from their home by Soviet soldiers and sent to a brutal labour camp in Siberia as part of a series of mass deportations. In order to escape the horrific conditions of the camp, Ada and her sister Barbara joined the Soviet-backed Polish Army. During her time in the military she became close with a handsome young Jewish officer, Lieutenant Antoni Murkies, who later became her husband.

After the war Toni was awarded 15 medals including the highest Polish military honour, the Virtuti Militari. Ada was awarded 10 medals, including the Order of the Cross of Grunwald.

Emigrating to Australia as postwar refugees in 1948, Ada and Toni arrived in Melbourne with little to their name. Working initially in garment factories and building their connections, by the mid-1950s the couple were able to start a company of their own, with Ada designing the garments and Toni managing the business. Within ten years, Ada of California swimwear was being sold in department stores throughout Australia, and the Murkies family were able to build a permanent home of their own in Brighton. By the early 1980s they had acquired several other major labels, including Watersun.

Physical description

Black one-piece rayon and cotton swimsuit. Straps button at back. Asymmetrical zig-zag front with double-line of white stitching, embellished by a large cream button.

Inscriptions & markings

Label, white with green palm tree logo and red text: "Ada / OF CALIFORNIA"
Label, white with red text: "61% RAYON, 10% RUBBER, 29% COTTON 36"