Huge crowds gathered at the church of St Roch in Paris yesterday, for the funeral Mass of the legendary fashion designer Yves St Laurent who died on Sunday, aged 71. More than a thousand gathered outside to watch the service on giant screens. There was spontaneous applause as Saint Laurent's coffin was carried into the church. French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni were among the celebrities who attended. Actress Catherine Deneuve, for whom Saint Laurent created the outfits she wore in cult film Belle De Jour, read a Walt Whitman poem during the tributes. 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. A shy and reclusive figure, Saint Laurent 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. He said: "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 suffered from depression for much of his life. Acknowledging this, Berge said: "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." Father Roland Letteron, who conducted the service, said that Saint Laurent "changed couture through his art."
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