Atelier Cillian’s Fall/Winter 2023 Collection Tells A Bewitching Sartorial Story
The burgeoning menswear brand dives into the world of witchcraft with “Mallevs Maleficarvm.”
New York Men’s Day returned to NYFW last week, offering a stunning showcase of menswear and genderless fashion from some of the industry’s brightest designers. Among them: Atelier Cillian, the quietly rebellious, richly-tailored brand run by Creative Director Stephen Mikhail. Atelier Cillian came onto the scene relatively recently—debuting during the Fall/Winter 2022 season—but the brand has enjoyed a rapid ascension since then. British-American Mikhail’s bold sartorial designs have garnered him an enviable client roster, including the likes of MGK, Jon Batiste, and Neil Patrick Harris. Take a look at the brand’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection and it isn’t hard to understand the appeal.
Titled “Mallevs Maleficarvm,” Atelier Cillian’s FW23 collection is a continuation of the brand’s fascination with deliciously-devilish artifacts from the past. In this case, it’s Heinrich Kramer’s infamous 1486 treatise of the same name about witchcraft. A handbook of sorts, Malleus Maleficarum aims to guide readers through identifying and punishing witches. The collection offers a dramatization of the ensuing witch hunt’s insidious effects—organic textures that mirror nature, from wood grain to water droplets, give way to blunted monochromatic looks and, finally, steely metallics. This shift echoes the dominance of the muted aesthetic of the church and its anti-witch crusaders over the paganic natural world.
Though it tells a story distanced from our time and place, “Mallevs Maleficarvm” is one of Mikhail’s most personal collections yet. The designer dedicated the collection to his muse and friend, model Jeremy Ruehlemann, who passed away earlier this year.
“[Ruehlemann] lived life to the fullest every day and he didn’t care what people thought about it. For someone that grew up feeling guilty for just living life out loud, his presence in my life reminded me that I am allowed to be myself and enjoy every day,” Mikail shared with VMAN. “This collection was the most ‘me’ yet, and his presence in my life made me feel free enough to do that.”
On both sides of the narrative arc, the brand’s sartorial craftsmanship shines. An eye-catching wool suit adds an energetic contrast to a black-and-white button-down. Another suit of armored silver evokes the image of a chromatic statue choked with vines. Other standouts include a reflective tailored coat and a suit jacket with an emblem of a tree branch sewn across its front. Silhouettes are lengthened or cropped to varying effects, resulting in a refreshing range of classic and non-traditional styles.
At the same time, the FW23 design story has a few surprising twists. There are impossibly-silky draped tops. A sheer-paneled blazer is paired with paper-thin mesh pants. Oil-slick black trousers fit like a second skin. The stifled constraints of formalwear are cut away—literally, in the case of one marvelous top bearing a gash across the middle—to reveal the body in manners that feel rebellious and natural all at once. The collection also features the signature blending of masculine and feminine aesthetics. The crown jewel of this effort is an understated black button-down featuring lacy panels between the center panel and sleeves. Such details offer a more hopeful message about Malleus Maleficarum and witch hunts in general: even when silenced and cloaked, the magic still finds ways to peek through the veil.