DHARMSALA, India, April 1 -- In an apparent attempt to connect with a younger generation, the Dalai Lama unveiled a new look today, exchanging his traditional monastic robes for a more hip getup.

After his morning meditation, the exiled Tibetan leader appeared at a press conference -- in a tight black vest and leather pants. His publicist gave a brief statement before the Dalai Lama posed for photographers.

"We're very mindful of His Holiness' image, and our goal is to get his message across to a younger audience."

Famously associated with celebrities such as Richard Gere (now 56) and the Beastie Boys (all of whom are at or near 40), the Dalai Lama acknowledged that he's been less successful connecting with Generation Y.

"I've been wearing those old robes for decades, all the while preaching about nonattachment. The dharma is about change, so why shouldn't I get jiggy with the times?" the Buddhist leader said.

Among his other jewelry, the Dalai Lama was wearing a large cross pendant. This was not a symbol of a conversion, he explained, but a gesture to promote religious harmony. In reference to his oversized "Free Tibet" medallion, the Dalai Lama said, "A little bling-bling never hurt anything."

Has he put away his maroon and gold robes for good?

"Nothing is permanent," he said.

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