It is often hard to find connections between the luxurious world of the fashion industry and the reality of the globe’s most desperate people. When looking at the diversity of the world’s people it is hard to find ventures that touch on and connect with both ends of the spectrum. Lucy Orta’s collection of Refuge Wear is a rare meeting between the lavish fashion industry and intense situations of human distress.

In a world were fashion is determined by trend, wealth and status the humbling works of Lucy Orta are a crucial reminder of true suffering. There is no doubt that due to current world events this series needs to be revisited and reconsidered. With currently over 485,000 people displaced due to the conflict in Gaza such works are important to bring back into the public eye.

These works bring new meaning to functional fashion and are an interesting look at the mix between fashion and architecture. Architecture is used as a powerful symbol to mediate identity. Orta’s works relate to this facet of architecture as the entire body is in complete interaction with its surrounding environment. Philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud described Orta’s works as “operational aesthetics” due to the use of the works by homeless people living in Paris and Munich.

Lucy Orta’s collection not only puts into question the fashion industry but the true attributes of clothes. Orta’s work expresses the essential and fundamental reality, which our clothing represents. It takes the fashion industry back into almost primitive surroundings, engaging the fundamental question of why clothing is important.

It is works such as these which are crucial in the bringing together of fashion and humanity. The meeting of two juxtaposing worlds is eye opening. These garments raise important questions, make us rethink our place in the world and draw attention to those who truly need it.




Orta, L 2006, Refuge wear-body architecture-urban lifegaurds, viewed 23 August 2013, <;


Ferris, E 2014, ‘Gaza: the conflict and displacement goes on’, Brookings Brief, 23 August, viewed 23 August 2014, <;


Lack, J 2009, ‘Artist of the week 58: Lucy Orta’, The Guardian, 23 August, viewed 23 August 2014, <;



Refuge Wear Lucy Orta, viewed 23 August 2014,