The geisha-inspired “Stampa” collection (dress, $179; leggings, $34.95). BLOGSPOT.COM/PHOTO

On November 19, H&M’s  Versace limited collection  debuted at stores in the  Eaton Centre, Bloor Street, and  Yorkdale.

The doors opened at 8 a.m., but fashionistas lined up on the street overnight to be one of the first 280 people to get a  coveted wristband. The wristband and inscribed number got you a place in line, 10 minutes in the store to see the collection, and a purchase of up to two of the same item. Shoppers likened the lineup to an “Occupy Toronto”  protest, talking and joking to keep warm in the -4°C weather. Many  passersby even mistook the  lineup as being for the premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.

H&M had used a similar protocol to control the lineup during last year’s launch of the Lanvin collection; the wristbands deterred confused rioting and the purchase limit stopped people from hoarding limited-edition pieces and selling them on eBay. The collection ranged from $25 women’s accessories to $500 men’s leather jackets.

For women, the pieces are bright, sharp, and Grecian, which means lots of studded leather dresses, pants, and jackets, as well as tropical floral dresses, handbags, and sequined and fringed tunics.

For men, the pieces concentrate on tailor suits and bright, bold tops, studded leather pants, palm tree print tees, and even hot pink suits and mesh tops. A particularly  audacious piece is a black velvet jacket with a silkscreen beach scene and leopard print on the sleeves.

Stores in Dubai, New York, Abu Dhabi, London, and Beijing sold out in less than 30 minutes. The H&M online store’s servers overloaded and crashed not long after the collection debuted in the UK on November 17.

Donatella Versace, the  current designer for the “high fashion” label, said the  collection was inspired by the “iconic moments of Versace” in the 80s. Donatella modernized the pieces in the H&M collection from the signature looks designed by  Gianni Versace, her brother and original designer of the house of Versace. Although many current buyers were not alive during the original days of Versace in the 80s, Donatella hopes the collaboration will allow Versace to reach a wider audience. She wanted to capitalize on the next generation of trend-savvy shoppers who mix high-end labels with trendier, less expensive pieces. This style  appears more and more  frequently: the girl with a pair of American Eagle jeans and a Louis Vuitton handbag.

This is not the first time H&M has paired up with a high-end  designer. In the past, collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld  (Chanel), Stella McCartney, and Alber Elbaz (Lanvin) resulted in sold-out limited collections. If you missed out on the limited Versace collection, keep an eye out for Tom Ford, who rumours in Marie Claire magazine suggest will be next in line for a collaboration with H&M.

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