One of six paper patterns, made in Italy around 1954 by Anna Fantini when she was 11 years old. It is a copy of women's clothing made by Anna for her imaginary dolls, as her family could never afford to buy her a real doll. Anna applied all her dressmaking skills to this pattern and used cigarette paper to make buttons and belts.
Anna Fantini, nee Improta was born in Torre Annunziata, a town near Naples, Italy, in 1943. Her family was very poor and they were forced to take her out of school when she was around 10 years old. Soon after Anna completed an apprenticeship in dressmaking with a local dressmaker for two years. Anna migrated to Australia with her husband and children in 1981. They were granted entry on humanitarian grounds as they were victims of the 1981 earthquake that devastated the Campania region. Anna had two sisters in Melbourne, one of whom had arrived in 1954.
The brown paper pattern is of a sleeveless dress, buttoned to the waist with silver paper. The upper bodice is intricately lined in pencil to form a yoke extending to the waist; contrasting pencilled lines extended from the central panel to the sides. The skirt has one box pleat at the back. The pattern is sewn together with white cotton.
This paper doll's dress is part of a small but evocative collection which represents poverty, resilience and childhood skills. It also represents the importance of material culture in maintaining connections to childhood memories, memories that can be both reassuring and painful. This is particularly significant within the context of migration narratives where people are not only disconnected from possessions but from homeland as well.
Donation from Mrs Anna Fantini, 17/06/1996
Type of item
27.05 cm (Length), 49 cm (Height)
Measurements taken from maximum points.
Exhibition Collection Management
490 mm (Length), 260 mm (Width), 90 mm (Height)
height - taken from item laying flat but mounted on support bags
490 mm (Length), 290 mm (Width)
Measurement From Conservation. Measuring Method: measured folded out