Melanie Vugich – Artist and fabric designer

Lisa Doust (left) manages her artist sister, Melanie Vugich. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Oscar de la Renta, the luxury Italian fashion house, approached former local, Melanie Vugich, last year.

“I worked closely with the team on creating a magnolia print and tablescape for their Spring 2022 collection,” she said.

Melanie always knew that she was going to be an artist when she was growing up in Broken Hill.

“I’ve been painting since I was very young,” she said.

“Mum even kept paintings from when I was five years old!”

Anybody who ever saw Melanie’s teenage fashion sketches of women in sweeping gowns recognised her prodigious talent and wasn’t surprised when she moved to Florence in Italy at the age of 22.

“I was just so thrilled to be in one of the world’s most beautiful cities and was prepared to do bar work and cleaning until I could speak the language,” said Melanie.

“I was always painting and was lucky to be introduced to Susan Nevelson, a renowned American fabric designer that needed a studio assistant.”

“Susan was an extremely talented artist and she mentored me and taught me all the skills I needed to be a fabric designer.”

Melanie considered herself lucky to find freelance work with several Italian fashion houses, including Roberto Cavalli, Etro, Enrico Coveri and Blumarine.

“I worked with lots of creative people and it was exhilarating to see my designs on the catwalk,” she said.

“I also painted in my spare time, as my long-term goal was to be a full-time painter.”

Living in Europe and visiting galleries is where Melanie developed a passion for still life paintings.

“Matisse and the Fauve artists have long been my greatest source of inspiration,” she said.

“My aim is to give my still life works a contemporary feel.

“I include native flowers and all of the familiar household objects that are used daily in my home and I experiment with bold colour combinations.”

Melanie returned to Australia in 2012 with her partner and son and focused on her painting career.

“I taught children’s classes until I had developed a big enough audience to paint full time and that’s what I do now,” she said.

Melanie’s work and life have been shaped by growing up in Broken Hill.

“As children, my sisters and I spent a great deal of time camping and visiting remote properties, which gave me a lifelong love of nature and provided a great sense of adventure,” she said.

“Having Croatian grandparents also gave me the curiosity to explore other countries.

“Like Lisa, I also really appreciate Broken Hill’s amazing community spirit.”

Melanie and her sister, Lisa, are very creative and share an “absolute passion for art,” so spend alot of time visiting galleries and discussing what’s going on within the Australian art scene.

“Lisa is extremely professional and super-organised, so I know my career is in great hands,” said Melanie.

“I trust her implicitly and we love working together and planning ahead.”

That future looks bright for Melanie, who will have two solo shows later in the year. One will be at The Corner Store Gallery in Orange at the end of June and the other at Purple Noon Gallery, at the foot of the Blue Mountains, in September.

“I’ve also recently created another design for Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2022 collection,” she said.

“It’s been so exciting to work with such a talented team on creating beautiful fabrics.”

To view Melanie’s artworks, visit

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