PARIS — Flowers were piling up in front of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation in memory of the late designer as preparations were being completed for Saint Laurent's funeral at the Eglise Saint-Roch here today.
Inside the foundation at 5 Avenue Marceau, which Saint Laurent founded with Bergé after he retired in 2002, the atmosphere was frenetic and solemn. Members of the Saint Laurent clan fielded requests for invitations to the funeral services, while others pored over details for the mass.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, are among scores of notables and designers set to attend. Actress Catherine Deneuve is expected to speak during the mass, as is Bergé.
Bergé, visibly emotive and fatigued after several days of planning the funeral, was listening to music that would be played during the mass. During the day, members of the YSL circle paid their private last respects to the designer, whose body had been laid out in his Left Bank apartment on the Rue de Babylone.
Saint Laurent, considered one of the greatest fashion designers of the last century, died of brain cancer late Sunday at his home. He was 71.
With Sarkozy at the funeral, security will be tight. Police are expected to cordon off the streets surrounding the church to traffic.
Guests will be allowed past police barriers if they have received an official pass. Other guests will be allowed inside the church depending on space.
On Wednesday, Saint-Roch, a Baroque edifice on the Rue Saint-Honoré, was redolent with lilacs and lilies that were being arranged for the funeral. The church, founded in 1653 by Louis XIV, is considered Paris' parish for artists. Pierre Corneille, Moliere, André Le Nôtre, Vauban and Diderot all worshipped or were buried there.
France's TF1 television station plans to broadcast live coverage of Saint Laurent's funeral. Few photographers are expected to be allowed inside the church due to presidential security restrictions. This has prompted some paparazzi to rent balconies on buildings facing the church.
The mass for Saint Laurent is slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. and last for roughly two hours. Following the ceremony, Saint Laurent will be cremated in the presence of his most intimate friends and family. His ashes then will be flown to Morocco, where they will be placed in an urn in the Majorelle Gardens, which he owned with Bergé.
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