Jun 5, 2008
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Celebs, stars mourn 'prince of fashion' Yves Saint Laurent

Jun 5, 2008

PARIS, June 5, 2008 (AFP) - Celebrities and the biggest names in fashion including Catherine Deneuve and France's ex-supermodel first lady Carla Bruni paid a final tribute to "prince of fashion" Yves Saint Laurent at his funeral Thursday June 5th.

Pierre Bergé with Yves Saint Laurent in July 1992
Photo : Pierre Verdy/AFP

The legendary designer, who dominated international couture from the swinging 1960s until his 2002 retirement, died Sunday in his Paris home of a brain tumour, aged 71.

Film star Deneuve and Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe were among the 800 mourners joining Saint Laurent's former lover and longtime business partner, Pierre Berge, who founded the iconic YSL house in 1961, when the designer was only 25.

There was thunderous applause from the hundreds of onlookers gathered outside the Saint-Roch church in central Paris, who were able to follow events inside relayed on a giant screen, when the designer's coffin was carried in.

Most of the women arriving for the funeral mass, including Bruni, who attended with her husband President Nicolas Sarkozy, were dressed in trouser suits, a tribute to the Saint Laurent's reputation as the designer who put women in pants.

Tributes that have poured in for the reclusive fashion giant, who despite his success was mentally and physically frail throughout his life, hailed his legacy as revolutionising women's wardrobes with a new androgynous style that mirrored women's push for a stronger social role.

"He turned fashion on its head," said Berge, "making it socially relevant rather than merely aesthetic. With Saint Laurent, women ceased being merely clothes-horses or the objects of designer fantasies."

At the service, intimate friend Deneuve was to recite a poem in homage to the man who created her outfits for the cult 1967 liberation movie by Luis Bunuel "Belle De Jour," about a frigid housewife who spends afternoons as a prostitute.

The late baroque Saint-Roch church is located close to the Louvre museum on one of Paris' most exclusive streets, the Rue Saint-Honore, home to a bevy of top-end designer boutiques.

In homage to its founder, YSL shops worldwide were due to close for two hours.

Also attending the funeral were staff from the YSL empire as well as current designer Stefano Pilati and most of the big names on the Paris fashion scene -- Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Sonia and Nathalie Rykiel, Kenzo Takada, and Valentino.

Notably absent will be rival Karl Lagerfeld, "away on business," according to Chanel, as well as Pierre Cardin, also not in Paris.

From the booming business sector, the head of the world's leading luxury group LVMH, Bernard Arnault, turned up, along with the head of Christian Dior couture, Sidney Toledano.

Saint Laurent, who was born August 1, 1936 in the Algerian town of Oran in the pre-independence era, will be cremated and his ashes flown to a botanical garden in Marrakech, Morocco, bordering a home bought there by Berge and YSL.

The couturier "spent much of his life in Morocco. He will stay there in a country that influenced and marked him greatly," said Berge. "He will end up in the Maghreb where he was born."by Claire Rosemberg

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