Anyone remotely connected with fashion will know that since the dawn of celebrity mania – and circa the launch of 'Grazia' in particular – any self-respecting editor's mailbox will be full to bursting with new merchandise worn or indeed carried by the world's favourite A-listers, day in day out, and cynics might point out, ad nauseam.
And so for example, Sarah Jessica Parker might be snapped with the season's latest It bag courtesy of anyone from Miu Miu to Chanel in tow. The lovely Cheryl Cole might appear resplendent head-to-toe in Alexander McQueen. Anybody and everybody chooses to endorse Yves Saint Laurent (well, it would only be churlish not to). And so forth.
In each case, it is the press office of the designer that provides journalists with the pictures in question. Time was, we all had to research what the beautiful people were investing in – or, of course, being given – for ourselves. These days, though, the symbiotic relationship between fashion and film and music in particular has never been so fertile and the communications departments of every big name is quick to ensure it reaps the benefits of the marketing potential involved.
Even with this in mind, though, when a picture of the Pope flanked by Barack and Michelle Obama pinged into view earlier this month it seemed less predictable fashion fodder. "13 July 2009. Vatican City, Rome. Michelle Obama dressed in Moschino on her visit to meet Pope Benedict last Friday," read the accompanying blurb. As if that weren't enough of a bombshell – the world's most elevated religious figurehead is beyond such opportunistic trivia, surely? – the powers that be at the Italian label then went so far as to provide an outfit description – just in case any recipient couldn't work it out for themselves. "Michelle Obama wore a black organza shirt with oversized bow, a silk tulle head scarf and a black skirt suit, all from the Moschino spring/summer 2009 collection."
As publicity shots go this, clearly, is in a different league. There's the diminutive pontif in full ecclesiastic garb – sadly his natty red loafers, once wrongly attributed to Prada, have been cropped out – with the American President and his wife dressed in sombre black as the auspicious nature of this meeting might dictate. Of course, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has done much to lift the profile of high-end fashion beyond the echelons of entertainment and into the realm of affairs of state. She, however, was a famous model. The Obamas, thankfully, have not in living memory indulged in any such whimsy. And should the Pope be above such crass advertising potential?
Anyone who has ever been to Vatican City will know that the Catholic Church is hardly backwards in coming forwards where flogging both image and product is concerned. The fact, then, that two such apparently opposed worlds collide may not be as surprising as it seems.