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Title Cream Velvet and Lace Wedding Dress
Date 18 Jul 1923
Document Type Object
Reference HT 2240
Library / Archive Museums Victoria
Collection Name Personal Stories Collections
Description Cream velvet wedding dress with georgette sleeves, a pearl brooch and hanging beads, waxed orange blossom, fine netted veil and cream kid leather gloves with three pearl buttons on each glove.
Series Description The Sigalas family's immigration story is a rich narrative which relates to a number of themes in the immigration history of Melbourne. The wedding dress is an evocative symbol of a key immigration motivation for young women – being brought out to Australia to marry men from similar cultural backgrounds, islands and villages. The Sigalas family story signifies migration as a continuous experience for some people: of shifting from country to country until finding the right spot to settle; of the strong ties to homelands which draws people back again and again; of chain migration; of finding brides in home countries in order to establish families in the new. While the objects do not directly pursue these themes, they can provide the point from which these complex migration themes can be explored.
Biographical Note / History The dress was worn by Lili Vrahamis at her wedding to Letho Sigalas at the Greek Orthodox Church in Victoria Parade, Melbourne on 18 July 1923. It was made by a Greek dressmaker in Melbourne. After the ceremony, a large dinner was given for the newlyweds at a café in Punt Road. Lili (Eleni) Sigalas (nee Vrahamis) was born in 1904 on the Greek Island of Sikinos. She was the daughter of Callirrhoe Dressler and Stavros Vrahamis, both from the Greek Island of Sikinos, who also lived for some time in Istanbul. She was engaged to Letho (Eleutherios) Sigalas, her cousin, in 1920. Lili completed her secondary education in Athens, her father ensuring she was reasonably well educated, as he was unable to settle a dowry on her. In 1922 Lili migrated to Melbourne on the ship 'Largs Bay' with her father-in-law to be, James (Iakovos) Sigalas, and her elder married sister Alex. Letho and Lili were married just eight days before Lili's 19th birthday. The couple had two daughters, Danae in June 1924 and Magarita Babette in 1931. Letho worked in his father's café and the young couple moved in a very sociable set that included their own young Greek cousins; going to numerous dances, the races, and nightclubs. The family lived in a house on St Kilda Road until 1948, when they moved to Kew. In 1930 and 1939 the family toured Europe and travelled to Greece to see Lili's parents. In 1937 Lili enrolled in an arts course at Melbourne University (her English now excellent), and during the 1940s, she became a committee member of the International Club established by Ivy Brookes, which organised cultural events at the St Kilda Town Hall. She was also a member of the Greek Red Cross during the Second World War, participated in organising significant theatre productions and worked as a correspondence teacher of English at the Migrant Education Department. Letho passed away in 1964 and Lili rejoined her family in Greece until 1987, having returned to Melbourne for extended periods during this time. Lili passed away in the 1990s.
Theme(s) Permanent Settlement and Successive Generations
Country (from) Greece
Country (to) Australia
Places Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Greek
People Sigalas, Lili; Sigalas, Letho
Keywords emigration, immigrant, textiles, object, clothing
Additional Information Please note: Some of the metadata for this document has been taken from the Museum Victoria catalogue.
Catalogue Link Museums Victoria Catalogue
Document(s) linked to Crimson Georgette and Sequin Dress
Dark Pink Velvet Hat
Black Beaded Turkish Collar and Components
Au Crépuscule Postcard, Lili Vrahamis to Letho Sigalas, Greece
Café Arabo Postcard, Letho Sigalas to Lili Vrahamis, Cairo
Bezique Score Boards
Chourmouze High School Certificate, Lili Vrahamis, Athens
Interior of the Anglo-American Cafe, Melbourne, Australia
Lili and Letho Sigalas Wedding Portrait, Melbourne, Australia
Engagement of Lili Vrahamis and Letho Siglas, Greece
Lili Sigalas, Melbourne, Australia
Sigalas Family Home, St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia
Lili Sigalas in the Bush, Victoria, Australia
Copyright Museums Victoria