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[whitespace] ORFI Shrink Wrapped!

The fashion craze takes on new meaning with ORFI's fall line

By Katy Bell

I consider my own personal comfort paramount in my quest for suitable everyday-wear fashions. Nothing arched, laced or bound uncomfortably--that's for staying in. My old metal-heeled Gucci stilettos rarely enjoyed the great outdoors. So imagine my delight in discovering this fall's latest from ORFI, direct from Bellevue, fashion à la mental ward.

A nice slipper scuff with socks? Yes, please. Off-white woven, loose-fitting shirts and pants with no fasteners, say, tied in the back? Oh yes. Big robes over a complete outfit, big quilts over the naked, narrow-shouldered supermodels, unwieldy wooden crosses worn around the neck covering the entire chest, dark-circled undereye makeup and the pièce de resistance: huge eye-of-god lanyards as big as your head.

ORFI is the Organization of Returning Fashion Interest, a small group of Rhode Island School of Design-ers influenced by the experiences the group members had working post-grad surveying mental hospitals. Floor by floor, apparently, but no one will say what for, exactly.

Thus a new brand of civilian uniform is born. Better living through chemistry, ha! ORFI is suggesting a whole new personal style wherein you may be asked to embrace your inner psycho. San Francisco, do not be afraid!

Look around. We are reputed to have an obscenely large population of untreated mentally ill persons wandering our streets, many of whom I have seen previewing the very fashions gracing the New York runways. What sort of shifting social trend could be realized when seemingly ordinary yuppies are seen sporting loony-bin fashions?

If you are interested in dabbling in asylum wear and you still have all your mental faculties, you may feel challenged at first. These things don't really make sense to a normal person. Take it slow--mental illness doesn't happen in a day. Begin by just going to the grocery store or food co-op in your pajamas. If you haven't ever done this, trust me, it's extremely liberating. Try to cultivate a superior attitude as a shield from other shoppers' disdain. Keep repeating, "I don't care what they think; I am in the eye of the fashion storm." Whatever you do, do not ignore the other people around you--fixate on the fact that everyone is staring at you. This will be your entrance to paranoid delusions, and they will take your fashion imagination far. Meantime, dress yourself in soft, loose fabrics, and remember, no pins or sharp edges.

Available at Hotel of the Rising Star, 13 Prince St., NY, NY 10012 (212.625.9657)

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From the November 8, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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