It was an unexpectedly tame and well-behaved affair — until the bags were rolled out.
At a Target store in West Hollywood, about 10 minutes after the 8 a.m. launch of the retailer's much-anticipated 3.1 Phillip Lim collection, many of the roughly 150 shoppers who had waited in line in the wee hours were still milling about the already stripped racks.
They been let into the store in groups of five. Although some had half-jogged to the display of womenswear, menswear and accessories, the shoppers were largely polite to each other, friendly even, as they heaped armfuls of dresses and tops into shopping carts.
As expected, the purses — including a selection of bags modeled after Lim's popular Pashli line and already sold out online — were quickly snatched up. But then Target workers rolled out a pallet piled high with more bags to replenish the racks.
Shoppers quickly swooped in to a tight circle around the pile, hovering, agitated, as workers loaded the purses on the display and barked at those who got too close.
As soon as the OK was given, fashionistas by the fistful swarmed toward the bags, creating a 30-second scramble of shouting and flailing arms before the crowd picked the rack clean.
Shopper Crystal Martin, who has made it to Target for all of the retailer's designer launches, managed to add a taupe Pashli doppelganger to her haul of shirts.
"It was out of control," she said of the throng. "This was painful. It was crazy."
The store had brought in extra workers to handle the event — giving the scene a Black Friday feel.
By 7:45 a.m., more than 100 shoppers were in line. "I've Got the Power" was pumping through the sound system.
Two women in the line fawned over another woman's bag - a blue Pashli from Lim's main line.
"OMG, is it real?" cooed one woman, reverentially caressing the bag.
"She's probably going to lick it," her friend joked.
But at 5 a.m., it was just 26-year-old law student Daniella, who sat at the front of the line.
The West Hollywood resident, who declined to give her last name, said she had checked Target's website at midnight and then again at 1 a.m. looking for the products, to no avail.
At 4 a.m., when she woke up to go, all of the purses she was hoping to buy were sold out online.
"I'm a Phillip Lim fan, but I could never actually afford a $900 purse," she said, whiling away the time with some reading for school. "But $35 for one that looks the same? I'm OK with that."