Fabienne Archive: Design Illustrations & Embroidery Samples

Nelly embroidered exquisite beaded patterns for Dior as cows were herded past her front door

Nelly van Rysoort arrived from Europe during the year of the Melbourne Olympics and started her own haute couture embroidery label in a newly built outer suburb of Melbourne.

Nelly was trained in Europe to produce intricate hand embroidered patterns for the major fashion houses of Paris. Examples of her work can be seen on garments in museum collections and her archive is divided between the National Trust of Australia  (Victoria) and the Historisch Museum, Rotterdam.

Nelly’s signature technique was cornely. Cornely work is comprised of a machine chain stitch that can be performed on a variety of fabrics. Nelly’s patterns were drawn onto butter paper perforated with an electric needle and transferred, via tailors chalk to the unsewn gown. The Cornely embroidery was then sewn freehand onto the fabric, over which the beads and sequins were sewn.

It could take 2000 hours, or one month, to embellish an all-over beaded dress. Nelly’s daughter Iris remembers that the designs consumed her mother day and night – from the initial concept – to sewing the last bead.


' ... the beauty of Australia was a great reward ... most of my designs are based on flowers, and there are so many wonderful species here that I will never run out of ideas.'

Nelly van Rysoort, 1963

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