Saint Laurent and Berge
Last evening I watched the documentary L'Amour Fou on Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. L'amour fou can be translated as mad love, crazy love. Berge and Saint Laurent were together for 50 years as business partners, and exclusive lovers for the first 18 of those years. At the very end, the two were joined in a "same-sex civil union known as a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) in France."
I mention it at the onset because this week same sex marriage becomes legal in Minnesota. Any proposal for same sex civil unions, though naively encouraged by some Catholics - including priests and bishops, was bypassed in Minnesota in favor of all out legalization of same sex marriage.
Civil unions aren't enough for gay activists. The situation in France demonstrates that. France has now legalized same sex marriage. Nevertheless, PACS has affected heterosexual marriage, in so far as many heterosexual couples have taken advantage of the civil union arrangement, which had originated as a way to accommodate same sex couples.
Although originally intended for same-sex couples, currently in France the majority of couples taking advantage of its law are now heterosexual couples who for one reason or another choose civil union rather than marriage, and that more heterosexual couples are opting for civil union rather than marriage. In fact, this trend was already in place in 2000, with 75% of unions between heterosexual couples (42% the previous years) and 95% in 2009. The process is commonly referred to as se pacser (IPA: [pakse], getting PACSed).Back to L'Amour Fou.
It was an interesting film. Saint Laurent was an important figure in the world of fashion, changing how women dressed in much the same way Chanel had done earlier. He was also an influence in my early life, since I worked in retail-fashion and his influence was rather major, especially since he pretty much invented designer ready to wear. He was also a player in the cultural scene of the time. His relationship with Berge seemed to fall apart romantically due to too much night-clubbing and drug use in the '70's. Saint Laurent worked all of his life and never had any time to simply be a carefree youth - the club scene and jet set society more or less made that available. Berge remained devoted to the designer as well as to the business, and was always St. Laurent's stable partner.
At his funeral, which was a Catholic one, Berge eulogized his partner:
"I remember your first collection under your name and the tears at the end. Then the years passed. Oh, how they passed quickly. The divorce was inevitable but the love never stopped."
I think in Europe, funerals for Catholics who may have been alienated from the Church, take place without much fuss. In this country not so much. I have no problem with it since we never know the private ministry the deceased may have benefited from - specifically, there may have been a deathbed reconciliation.
That said, the film was rather depressing. For all of his success and riches, Saint Laurent suffered from depression all of his life, and surely ended terribly depressed, though sober and clean of drugs and alcohol - he went through treatment in the early '90's I believe. There is a desolation which comes through the narrative, albeit unintentionally.
The film was also sad because it documents the liquidation of the estate and the extraordinary art and antique collection the two men amassed, which made millions for Berge. Berge was able to let go, something he said Saint Laurent would not be able to do if he had survived Berge. Sadly Berge admits he himself 'believes in nothing'. No God. No after life. "I don’t believe in the soul, neither in my own, nor in that of these objects."
That is so extremely sad - the saddest thing of all in fact.
I think Saint Laurent did believe however - I saw an ivory crucifix above his bed.
"One's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” - Luke 12:15