ROME (Reuters) - After years of speculation that Pope Benedict wears shoes by Prada, the Vatican’s official newspaper denied such talk as “frivolous”.
Esquire magazine last year named the 81-year-old pontiff “accessorizer of the year” for his red leather loafers that fashionistas had said were probably made by the Italian fashion house.
While the Vatican had never confirmed or denied if the shoes were Prada, continued chatter about the pope’s dress sense led the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano to print a condemnation of media stories it said trivialized the head of the church.
Esquire’s inclusion of the pope on its best-dressed men list was, it said, “of a frivolity that is very characteristic of an era that tends to trivialize and does not understand”.
The article explained that the pope’s shoes, like his range of flamboyant hats, are nothing to do with vanity but all to do with tradition. “The pope, in summary, does not wear Prada, but Christ,” it said.
The article did not say who did make the shoes.
Benedict’s choice of garments has often been striking. On recent drives through St. Peter’s Square he shaded himself from the fierce June sun under a wide-rimmed bright red hat known as a “Saturn” after the planet with the rings.
Around Christmas 2005 he delighted pilgrims by appearing in a red velvet cap trimmed with white fur which, together with a scarlet cape, gave him the look of Santa Claus.
The Osservatore noted that both hats, far from being fashion items, are in fact traditional papal accessories that have been worn at various points in history by previous popes.
Reporting by Robin Pomeroy