Rome

Tailors hard at work preparing new wardrobe for next pope

Clothing in small, medium and large prepared for unknown pontiff

Tailors hard at work preparing new wardrobe for next pope

Rome, March 4 - For 52 years, Teresa Palombini has been helping to tailor the clothes worn by popes of all shapes and sizes. And as one of the longest-serving employees at the Gammarelli tailoring shop of Rome, she is pleased to be hard at work now on a wardrobe for the next pontiff. Of course, no one knows as yet who that will be - a date for the conclave to elect a replacement for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who retired last week, has not yet been selected. But that has never prevented the tailor, located in Rome's Via Santa Chiara near the Pantheon, from preparing the necessary garments to fit whatever size the next pope will be. Sewing under these conditions is "a strange thing, but exciting," says Palombini, whose employer says that it has been the wardrobe designer for the Vatican since the 18th century. Ecclesiastical clothes are generally sewn in three sizes - small, medium, and large - to fit whoever needs them. But heading into a conclave and the election of a new pope means extra work to ensure that special garments, fit for a pontiff, are ready. That means 10 straight days of eight-hour labour for Palombini and four other colleagues to ensure wardrobes in every size will be ready. Papal ensembles are generally made of wool with special styling features, including a particular style of wide sleeve and the mozzetta, the short cape of read velvet work by the pope. The most difficult item to prepare in advance are the next pope's shoes. A range of sizes must be available to find the best fit for the individual.

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