School built with Hepburn dress money opens


BISHNUPUR, India -- A school in eastern India built with money raised in the auction of Audrey Hepburn's iconic black dress was inaugurated Wednesday by French author and philanthropist Dominique Lapierre.

Some 200 children will be able to attend the school in Bishnupur, a village nearly 30 miles south of Calcutta, the capital of the West Bengal state.

"I am very happy that my efforts are fructifying. Things are changing with more and more children going to school," Lapierre told cheering students.

The school is one of 15 to be built in the state with $807,000 paid by high bidder Givenchy, now a division of LVMH, at an auction in December at Christie's in London.

Lapierre had received the dress as a gift from designer Hubert de Givenchy. The company repurchased it to support both the City of Joy Foundation, run by Lapierre to help India's poor, and the heritage of the brand.

Hepburn wore the elegant sleeveless sheath for her role as eccentric Manhattan socialite Holly Golightly in the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's." The movie's opening scenes show her character wearing the dress as she emerges from a taxi with a brown-bag breakfast to gaze at diamonds and luxury goods in the storefront windows of Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue.

Books by Lapierre include "The City of Joy," set in Calcutta, and "Freedom at Midnight," about India's independence from Britain in 1947.