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The recent spate of collaborations between designers and mass retailers usually comes with anxiety-inducing launches: the fanatical shoppers camping out overnight, the inevitable stampede once the doors open, the elbow swinging and pillaging that ensues. It’s retail pandemonium. Meeting expectations, the crowd at the Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection preview party on Wednesday night in Midtown Manhattan was eager to get their hands on the merch. Those who didn’t make it past the fleet of clipboard-wielding public relations girls manning the door will have to wait until Saturday for the loot, a 50-piece limited-edition holiday collection from 24 Council of Fashion Designers of America designers, $1 million of the sales of which will go to the CFDA.

On the first floor, guests were greeted by a cheery elf knitting atop a mountain of presents. Cashiers busily rang up customers amid the snowflake motif with massive black-and-white photographs of the participating designers suspended on the walls. The bold-faced set caused a stir with the crowd swarming around Zoe Saldana, Leighton Meester, Allison Williams and Karlie Kloss. Kate Bosworth mugged for photographers under the photo of Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. “I want to be with these guys,” the starlet said, posing with a thumbs up.

This story first appeared in the November 30, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Upstairs, virtually all guests were lugging along merch of some kind, either a heap of hangers or a stack of boxes piled so high many had trouble seeing over it. Product was, quite literally, flying off the shelves, with one guest nearly causing an avalanche when she attempted to ensnare a pair of Alice + Olivia suitcases off a top shelf.

Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing was, of course, pleased with the fervor.

“I’m insane for that Joseph Altuzarra bar set,” he said. “I was hoping to make off with one tonight but I think they’re all gone.”

Presumably, he’d know where to find more.

The collection saw many designers venture into product categories they’d never worked in before. One model happily pedaled away on an Alice + Olivia floral-print bicycle. For Rag & Bone, clearly booze is a vital part of the holiday season as customers could select either a silver flask or matching shot glasses.

Jason Wu appreciated the latitude.

“They told us, ‘You can make anything you want,’ and I said, ‘OK, well, you should be careful what you wish for,’” the designer said with a smile. Wu grabbed a box encasing his trio of dazzling ornaments, each with lace overlay and gold baroque details. He also designed a pair of girls dresses, his first foray into children’s wear.

“I have to say it was a little selfish because it just so happens that six of my friends had daughters this year. So I was like, ‘Well why am I buying stuff when I can make it?’ I just did all my Christmas shopping with this collaboration,” Wu admitted. “Whoever doesn’t have babies gets the ornaments.”

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