The struggle for fashion supremacy among top prelates of various persuasions continues unabated, with photos being released to the press almost weekly showing the heights of gorgeousness reached by the latest outfits.
My impression is that Rome is currently winning on points; the snide remarks about the Pontiff's predilection for designer gear (Prada knickers or whatever) have done him no harm and were probably inspired by envy of the stunning all-white get-up he wore to descend the aircraft steps the other day; this was brilliantly set off by his red slippers, allegedly not made by a famous name but by the Vatican's own little cobbler.
The Anglican response to this sort of thing has been rather feeble. The current Primate of All England has always been keen on flashy gold numbers which give him a vaguely showbiz aspect, and of course even the most spectacular mitre loses some of its style when it surmounts a rather sad beard and spectacles (think how soppy the Imperial State Crown looks when the Queen puts on her glasses to read her speech to Parliament).
And now, disappointingly, Michael Nazir-Ali, the 106th Bishop of Rochester and former possible candidate for Cantuar, clearly lacks all sartorial sense, not having realised that if you have your mitre made up from cloth with a chintzy, tea-cosy sort of pattern then you are going to look not so much like a great leader of a great church but merely like a man with a tea-cosy on his head. Lamentable!
[For a note on headgear that is de rigueur for papal obsequies, look HERE.]