Peter Mikelbank
June 05, 2008 11:20 AM

Thousands gathered in Paris Thursday to bid a last farewell to designer Yves St Laurent, who died Sunday at age 71.

Mourners from fashion, politics and show business including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife former Saint Laurent model Carla Bruni Sarkozy and actress Catherine Deneuve showed up to pay their respects.

Other designers, including Hubert de Givenchy, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, and Sonia Rykiel, were also there to remember their colleague. Throngs of people in the street followed the funeral and a tribute to the designer himself on a giant television screen.

Pressed against the barricades outside the église St. Roch on the rue de Faubourg Saint Honoré, a church located just around the corner from where Saint Laurent began his Paris career in the early ’50s, the crowd applauded when screens showed his 2002 farewell fashion collection. Shortly afterward, they hushed when the designer’s oak casket was carried up the church steps.

In a ceremony orchestrated by Saint Laurent’s longtime partner Pierre Berge, a string quartet played while guests took their seats in the church decorated with jasmine and white lilies. The 800 invitation-only attendees included former Saint Laurent models Ines de la Fressange and Jodie Kidd. The designer’s own 94-year old mother and his sister were seated alongside France s former first lady Bernadette Chirac and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe.

The funeral included a eulogy from Berge and a reading of a Walt Whitman poem by Deneuve.

In accordance with his wishes, Saint Laurent will be cremated and his ashes placed to rest in Morocco’s Majorelle Gardens. The garden borders a property in Marrakesh, which Saint Laurent (who was born in Algeria) and Berge bought in 1980. Berge told reporters on Monday that Saint Laurent “spent a great part of his life in Morocco. He will finish there, in a country which greatly influenced him, marked him very much. He’ll wind up in the North Africa where he was born.”

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