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Holy Fashion

Besides being Europe's only absolute monarch, the highest authority of the Catholic Church, and the head of state of the smallest country in the world, the Pope is one of few human beings who can claim to be officially infallible.
Κείμενο Lorenzo Gigotti
02 Μάρτιος 2009, 12:00am


Raniero Mancinelli


Raniero Mancinelli has been a clerical tailor for more than four decades. He’s the proprietor of a shop in Borgo Pio, a few steps away from St. Peter's square, the one that the Pope theoretically swithced to after ditching Gammarelli. He wouldn’t talk about it but admits to having dressed both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Vice: How did you become an ecclesistical tailor?

Raniero Mancinelli:

Is there a technical difference between a normal tailor and an ecclesiastical tailor?

What kind of fabric do you use?

So what are the specific requirements for clerical wear?

Forgive my curiosity, but what do preists wear beneath the cassock?

Do the different colors have specific meanings?

Can you tell me about the differences in clothing among different ecclesiastical orders?

I really dig the Jesuits who wear hoodies.

Do you think the Pope is something of a fashion icon in the clerical world?

I also heard the Pope's current PA is something of a sex symbol. Apparently he inspired designers.

Isn't he a good looking guy?

Can we men say it too?

What's your rapport with your clients?

Who spends the most?

Are there specific times of the year in which you work more than others?

So how much does this cost someone?

And who pays?

Do priests prefer to have female or male tailors?

Roberto Maurelli

Roberto Maurelli started his company 40 years ago. He's primarily a distributor of ecclesiastical wear, clerical furnishings, and robes for first communions, but he also deals in mantels and insignia for guilds and orders of knights. Today his son runs his shop.

How did you begin?

Can you describe your clientele for us?

Is there a difference between Northern Italian and Southern Italian priests?

Can anybody wear cassocks?

I heard that the Pope wears Prada shoes. Is it true?

And how much does your clerical wear cost?


But you sell many more things besides robes and cloth, right?

You also sell wine?

So it's not something I could buy to drink at home?

Is it any good?

What do you think is the future of ecclesiastical tailoring?

Elisabetta Bianchetti

Elisabetta Bianchetti is the proprietor and director of Manifatture Mario Bianchetti, a family-run company foiunded in 1912 that specializes in producing clothing for nuns.

I found a statement on your website that says you aim to “best interpret the concept of religious wear while adapting it to modern times.” What does that mean?

I see. You are primarily known for your women's line. What are the more elaborate dresses for nuns?

What do you ask of your creatives? Do you have different code words for different lines?

Wow. What are you inspired by?

When the ecclesiastical orders try to modernize their look, what do they tend to ask you for?

Bishops take their fashion cues from the Pope. Who do the nuns refer to?

Do they care about looking good?

You also carry underwear. Does it have any particular characteristic?

Why don't nuns wear black anymore?

Do you have any favorite designers outside the ecclesiastical world?

Michele Ombroso

Michele Ombroso is widely regarded as one of the best ecclesiastical tailors in the world. Before retiring he spent the last years of his career working for Euroclero, the company that allegedly is now dressing Pope Benedict XVI.

How does one become an ecclesiastical tailor?

During the course of your career did you notice distinctive changes in style?

cappa magna,


cappa magna

How would you define your style?

Some would define the Pope as a fashion icon in your world.

Do you think ecclesiastical tailoring feels the influence of lay fashion?

Are you a believer?

Is it necessary for the job?