Since receiving the commission last year to redesign the habit worn by 90 Franciscan friars of the Third Order Regular, Ms. Bianchetti and her design have been praised, debated and excoriated in the Italian press. The state-run television network RAI broadcast a documentary on her innovations, which were termed prete-à-porter, a pun on both the Italian word for priest and the French term for ready-to-wear.
"What Elisabetta Bianchetti did is quite radical," said Adriana Sartogo, who produced the film for RAI-TV. "Italians are very conservative about the clergy, and to restyle their clothes never, ever happens here."
The changes made by Ms. Bianchetti were, in fact, duly modest. Streamlining a heavy folded wool robe, she also adapted its color to accord with records of St. Francis from the 13th century. But it was her replacement of two small slits on the garment with a pair of shirt-style pockets that apparently tickled a bemused Italian press.