Whether it's Prada and Gucci, or just fancy ecclesiastical tailoring, Pope Benedict XVI is his own man when it comes to dressing.
Just days before Christmas, Benedict showed up at his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could easily have passed for a Santa Claus hat.
Earlier this month, Benedict made another fashion statement – donning a deep red velvet cape trimmed in ermine for the trad-itional visit to the statue of the Madonna that marks the beginning of Rome's Christmas season.
Coming on the heels of gossip about Gucci shades and bright red Prada loafers, the vintage styles have turned Benedict into something of a fashion celebrity.
“Those red shoes have made quite an impression,'' said Vatican historian Alberto Melloni.
But those who know the 78-year-old Joseph Ratzinger from his years as head of the Vatican's doctrinal office before he became pope in April dismiss any notion of vanity in his dressing habits.
“He wouldn't know Gucci from Smoochi,'' said Marjorie Weeke, a former official at the Vatican. – AP