Zeffirelli told La Stampa newspaper that the Pope communicated in a cold way that was little suited to what was happening around him. These are not times for high tailoring in papal vestments, he said. He contrasted the relaxed attitude of the late Pope John Paul II to his official attire with that of Benedict. Lacking his predecessor’s charisma, Pope Benedict has taken to wearing some eye-stopping outfits in public, such as a red velvet cape trimmed with ermine, not worn in public since the death of John XXIII in 1963. When he donned a fur-trimmed red cap, some people mistook it for a Santa Claus hat.
Zeffirelli, a Roman Catholic, was employed several times by the Vatican during John Paul II’s reign as a designer for the staging of major papal ceremonies. He told La Stampa he would relish being Pope Benedict’s image consultant. “If they gave me an official supervisory role, I would dedicate myself to it full time,” Zeffirelli said. “I know [Joseph] Ratzinger personally,” he added, using the German-born pope’s name before he became pontiff. “He is very attentive to the importance of how the sacred is represented.”
So far there has been no reaction to Zeffirelli’s offer from the Vatican.
The BBC are reporting that Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian film, stage and opera director, has said Pope Benedict XVI needs a makeover of his “cold” image and “showy” clothes: