A host of stars turn out to celebrate the collaboration -- and shop late-night

By Kate Hogan
November 09, 2011 06:30 PM


Donatella Versace knows how to throw a party.

The designer debuted her much-anticipated line for H&M at a star-studded event in Manhattan on Tuesday night that included a full-length fashion show, a private concert by Prince and Nicki Minaj and some serious late-night shopping.

“The collection is fun,” Versace told PEOPLE as she headed into the bash. “It starts with the iconic moment, Gianni’s black leather and gold studs. Then there are the Miami prints that people know the best. I wanted to show them the real thing, and then it goes through the evolution of Versace from the prints to my collections up to today.

“I’m very happy tonight,” she added. “I didn’t expect such a turnout. I knew it would be exciting, but not like this.”

“I’m very proud of my mother,” Allegra Versace, wearing vintage Versace, chimed in. “I’ve been wearing the H&M line. I love the fact that it’s going to make all these clothes accessible to kids my age.”

The celebrities who showed up in great numbers were also enthusiastic. “I’m not too savvy about the whole fashion thing,” admitted a Versace-clad Chace Crawford. “But I thought [the collaboration] sounded pretty cool.”

That was the general consensus among the stars. “Girls like to wear Versace,” explained Jessica Alba. “It’s an iconic brand. The first time I wore Versace, I presented at the Oscars, I went over to Donatella’s house, and she opened her closet and we talked about boys and we talked about kids and it made me feel beautiful and special.”

Uma Thurman recalled a similar Versace moment — she wore one of Donatella’s gowns to the Golden Globes a few years ago — and Nicki Minaj even paid tribute, too. “This is what Donatella wanted,” she said, pointing to her wild green wig. “And what Donatella wants, she gets.”

Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc/Sipa

A Royal Declaration
Following the fashion show, positive reviews were flying. “I loved it,” Emma Roberts told PEOPLE. “The clothes, the hair and makeup were amazing. I feel like it was really done right. I’m unsure of a lot of collaborations, but this made so much sense. It was so fun and young and I would wear everything.”

Roberts and the rest of the crowd then moved into another room, decorated to look like a disco, and watched Nicki Minaj and Prince take the stage. The Purple One even came back for an encore, performing “Purple Rain” and dedicating the tune to Versace.

When the concert ended after 1 a.m., a curtain opened, revealing a huge display of the Versace H&M line on racks, mannequins and tables, with every outfit and accessory in the show available in great numbers and all sizes. And until the wee hours, fashionistas — with credit cards drawn — went wild.

“I’m a little bit sad that the collaboration is over tonight,” Versace mused. “I worked with a fantastic team of people. And I learned a lot.” Most importantly, though, she was happy to share her brother’s legacy with a younger audience. “I’d never touched the prints since my brother died,” she admitted. “I took them from the archives, and added the fun and excitement and glamor.” Exactly what Versace is all about.

–Jeffrey Slonim