Conscious, Influences
Comment 1

Lucy Orta : Refuge Wear

Refuge Wear Habitent 1992

Refuge Wear Intervention. London East End 1998

Refuge Wear Installation 1995


Whoever thinks that fashion is frivolous, and environmental design has to be boring should see the work of  Lucy Orta (1966), a British fashion designer turned contemporary artist. Her works are something in between body and architecture, fashion and art, that perfectly draw upon urgent social and environmental concerns.




Lucy left fashion and worked as a visual artist since 1991, opening Studio Orta with her husband Jorge Orta. Together, they create artworks that confront social issues such as refugees, population control, and water pollution.

Throughout the decade, she staged a series of interventions to challenge acts of social disappearance and to render the invisible populations, visible once more, signalling out social issues that the media were ignoring at that time.

Probably her favourite mantra to work with is ‘Survival’ , since 1992 she has created the series of Refuge Wear and Body Architecture (1992–1998), a survival kit for the modern nomad, a high-performance coat made from technical fabrics that transforms into portable architecture : a backpack and a tent. Designed in the 90s, these Semi-futuristic designs recalled the paranoia of the Cold war, as if she was preparing for the apocalypse.

I love the fact that her works contain both functional and symbolic objects, and are so modern that 25 years later, still surprisingly relevant and useful for today’s unsolved problems.


Confronting the period of global economic crisis and Gulf War, Refuge Wear (1992-98) series, are portable habitats that can be transformed into clothing to offer protection from harsh conditions and shelter in emergency situations.

They are poetic responses to the human needs for shelter and clothing, to help Kurdish refugees fleeing the war zones, to the people displaced by the Kobe earthquake, and to the increasing numbers of homeless people.

It’s not just statement but function, as her works have actually been used by homeless people in Paris and Munich. The philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud describes Orta’s artworks as “operational aesthetics” , the Living Sculptures.

“The conversion from shelter to clothing is fundamental to the concept of freedom, new relationships and cultural exchanges.”


“Small actions can change the world…
In the end, utopias are disappearing behind money and success.
It is up to us to show youth the possibility of these ideas.”
-Lucy Orta

Courtesy :

Further Read :
The Guardian Artist’s of the Week : Lucy Orta
In the Studio : Lucy and Jorge Orta Sculptors

1 Comment

  1. Suzie Cher says

    I am very inspired and totally endorse the concept of thoughtful fashion. Thank you for sharing content that is really worthwhile and meaningful. 🙂

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