Big. Bold. Beautiful.

Since the 1940s, Balmain has enchanted the fashion crowd, but with hefty price tags reaching $20,000 (the reported price of Kim Kardashian’s beaded bachelorette frock), the brand is not necessarily for the masses. That is, of course, until H&M steps in for a designer collaboration.

Much like the design house’s Kardashian fan base, Balmain went big and bold for its partnership with H&M. Yes, the line boasts lots of sequins and sparkle, but it is also literally big, as H&M’s largest collaboration to date. The collection also chose a big-name, it-girl cast of models (you know, Gigi, Kendall, Jordan) to trumpet its cause.

THE BIG

With more pieces, more menswear, and more styles at a wider range of prices than its predecessors, the Balmain x H&M line understandably drew a larger crowd. Shoppers that were used to lining up at 5:30 in the morning found that, even when they arrived before 5, they were farther back in line than they had been for past collections. Another surprise was the number of men, comprising more than half of the Balmain devotees in line. The menswear options included luxe leather goods and seasonally appropriate coats that prompted fashionably-clad men to leave their beds before dawn. With coats, shoes, pants, bags and more, the collaboration ensured its male followers should go home happy…but did they?

THE BOLD

The line sold out in mere hours (less than four at the Beverly Center location in Los Angeles). In the past, the store used strategies such as staggering goods to ensure more availability, a strategy that appeared to have been forgotten as more than half of the styles were unavailable by the second hour of sales. One male shopper even confessed that he went home empty-handed because all the men’s clothing had been sold by the time he got a chance to shop. Even before all the groups had been let into the store, scalpers were already buying and selling goods for cash ten feet from the storefront. Security guards repeatedly asked them to leave, yet one scalper boldly asked, “What are you going to do about it?” Later, on the last day H&M would accept returns for the original form of payment, shoppers once again congregated like vultures, eyes peeled for people entering with Balmain x H&M shopping bags. An employee divulged how she was scared to bring returns from the cash register to the Balmain x H&M rack. When employees undressed store mannequins to sell the last of the line, two women fought over the green sequin dress, clawing at each other and tugging at the garment even as security escorted them out of the store.

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