The great and the good of the world's fashion industry crammed the Paris church of St Roch yesterday for the funeral of designer Yves St Laurent.
The UK Daily Telegraph reports French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his First Lady, Carla Bruni, attended the service. Miss Bruni, who wiped away a tear as she left the church, wore a black trouser suit in tribute to the designer, who is credited with introducing women to the style in the 1960s.
Actress Catherine Deneuve, for whom Saint Laurent created the outfits she wore in cult film Belle De Jour, read a Walt Whitman poem at the service, which was relayed to the crowds outside via a giant screen.
More than 1,000 people thronged the streets outside the baroque church to pay their last respects.
The 90 minute Mass was broadcast on giant screens outside the church, where throngs filled the streets around the Louvre near the church, New York Magazine says. When Saint Laurent's casket was carried in, thunderous applause erupted but the crowd was silent during the service.
Many of the biggest names in fashion attended including Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Valentino, Hubert de Givenchy, Sonia Rykiel, Kenzo Takada, and Alber Elbaz. Many women in attendance wore trouser suits in homage to Saint Laurent's revolutionary design.
Saint Laurent died of a brain tumour on Sunday, aged 71. A shy and reclusive figure, he retired in 2002 after four decades at the top of his trade.
Pierre Berge, his long-time personal and business partner, paid a moving tribute to the designer.
"These are my last words to you, Yves. You cannot hear me, you cannot reply. You were the greatest designer of the last half of the 20th century. On your marble plaque, I have had engraved above your name the words, 'French couturier'."
He added: "You could have slid into fashions at times, but instead you remained faithful to your own style, and you were quite right for that style is now everywhere... in the streets of the whole world."
Saint Laurent had long battled depression and Berge acknowledged this in his funeral speech. "You belonged to this magnificent and tragic family of highly strung people who are the salt of the earth. All that is best comes to us from the highly strung."
Fr Roland Letteron, who conducted the service, said that Saint Laurent "changed couture through his art."
As a mark of respect, YSL shops around the world closed for two hours while the funeral took place.
Yves Saint Laurent: Fashion world says farewell to designer (UK Telegraph, 5/6/08)
Over 1,000 Attend Yves Saint Laurent's Funeral (New York Magazine, 5/6/08)
Fashion bades farewell to its 'prince' Yves Saint Laurent (AFP, 5/6/08)
Fashion Remembers Yves Saint Laurent (Updated)
Yves St Laurent (Wikipedia)
Yves Saint Laurent's Greatest Moments (New York Magazine, 5/6/08)