For Spring/Summer 2023, Nicholas Raefski is Shooting For The Stars

For Spring/Summer 2023, Nicholas Raefski is Shooting For The Stars

For Spring/Summer 2023, Nicholas Raefski is Shooting For The Stars

The designer to watch tells VMAN about his newest collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week.

The designer to watch tells VMAN about his newest collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week.

Text: Trishna Rikhy

At its Spring/Summer 2023 presentations, one thing at New York Men’s Day was certain: Nicholas Raefski is a designer to watch.

 

The designer’s eponymous label debuted “The Stars Don’t Look Bigger, But They Do Look Brighter” for SS23, a dynamic, sharp collection that builds upon Raefski’s repertoire of modern menswear – or, better said, menswear for the modern man.

At Nicholas Raefski’s presentation, waiters passed around White Claw seltzers on platters while attendees sipped and surveyed the collection, shown on models lounging around raised tables on a stage-like platform in small groups, watching the audience watch them. The effect was powerful, and impossible not to compare to Raefski’s Fall/Winter 2022 presentation earlier this year, where models were laidback on fake grass, hanging out on bleachers, on the same level as the audience, who could see the presentation in the round. The message, this season, was clear – Nicholas Raefski is growing toward bigger things.

 

“I’ve been learning the importance of taking risks and thinking bigger,” Raefski tells VMAN. “As a young designer who doesn’t come from a very traditional design background, it is easy to be intimidated. I’ve really been focused on thinking bigger and making things more spectacular. This season, I wanted the show to be very much an experience. I wanted people to leave thinking, wow, how did Nicholas pull this one off?”

 

Evoking a futurism imagined from the past (think hovercars and jetpacks, à la The Jetsons’ vision of the future), the collection walks a fine line between nostalgia and newness. Bright crimsons and electric blues pop out from a sea of black and white, and from the sharp, tailored lines of blazers and zip-up jackets to the disciplined bagginess of knits and shorts, every element of tailoring is driven and precise, every hemline hitting exactly where Raefski intends.

“The Stars Don’t Look Bigger, But They Do Look Brighter” consists of clothes for the everyday, if the everyday is clean and cool. A wide-lapeled peacoat with gray shoulder panels remixes a classic cut, while a matching red and white blazer and pant set dares to restructure formalwear for casualty. 

 

“This collection was inspired by blind optimism for the future, and we did this through this lens of retro futurism,” says Raefski. “It is a very personal collection based in the fact that the day to day of designing and growing this brand is still filled with much uncertainty, but this total sense of optimism that in the long run this all works out.”

 

Raefski’s collection is all-encapsulating: it’s fun, and it’s youthful, but it’s also serious. It’s a purple sweater with white, abstract faces printed all over it, and it’s a clean-cut, tailored black suit with tiny white stars printed all over it. It’s a varsity jacket that could be from the 1950s, and a collared space-graphic long sleeve that could only be from 2022.

What Raefski has achieved, with only two years behind his label (which launched out of his college dorm room), is something many designers strive to pinpoint for years in their careers: a total mastery of prints. This season builds upon the groovy, ‘70s-esque retroist prints of last season, projecting garments into a futuristic, space-y landscape, completely untethered from the earth (this can be seen perhaps most tangibly in Raefski’s remix of a button-down with Mick Jagger’s face on it from last season; this time, the same shirt features the Starman himself, David Bowie). 

 

“‘The stars don’t look bigger, but they do look brighter’ means that the goals I am trying to achieve no longer seem impossible,” says Raefski, “And that the future looks bright.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Nicholas Raefski

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