The shoemaker of Pope Benedict XVI Antonio Arellano poses with the red shoes of the Pontiff on February 22, 2013 in Rome, Italy. The Pope will hold his last weekly public audience on February 27 at St Peter’s Square after announcing his resignation last week. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Meet the man behind the Pope’s red shoes

The red shoes are being retired.

Pope Benedict XVI wearing red shoes for an official event. (Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI wearing red shoes for an official event. (Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)

The Pope is giving up the trademark that briefly made him a fashion star, trading in his snappy ruby-red loafers for a pair of hand-crafted brown ones made for him by artisans in Mexico. He will wear those in retirement, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says.

The flash of red sparked (unfounded) rumors he was wearing Prada and helped make him Esquire magazine’s accessorizer of the year in 2007. The actual designer? A craftsman who left Peru in 1998.  Antonio Arellano told Reuters  Pope Benedict XVI was a loyal customer before he became Pope and even made the pair of red loafers with his name lined on the inside of the shoe.

“When he was cardinal, he came in like any normal person to have his shoes mended,” said Arellano to Reuters, whose shop is in a Rome quarter that neighbours the Vatican City – since 1998.  Arellano said he was elated to find out Pope Benedict wore his shoes in 2011 during Pope John Paul II grand beatification ceremony.  Though the retiring Pope will no longer be wearing those red shoes, he hopes to keep him as a customer still, and perhaps add others.

“In the future, the new pope, let’s hope he will be my customer, if he is, hallelujah, another one .. Working for him would be fantastic,” he told Reuters.

A former Vatican official assured The Associated Press back in 2005 that Benedict was no clothes horse, advising that the pontiff “wouldn’t know Gucci from Smoochi.”

NBC Latino staff contributed to this report. 

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