February 11, 2014 at 1:00 am

New York Fashion Week

Top-tier Fashion Week designers describe pressure of prepping for, creating great show

By all appearances, designers seem a perfectly confident lot — especially the veterans. At the end of their shows during New York Fashion Week, they take their runway bows looking cool, collected and, of course, chic.

Michael Kors stalks his catwalk wearing signature black and proffering a presidential wave. Donna Karan goes glam, often dressed in something from her latest line, doling out kisses to the front row. The team at Badgley Mischka appears entirely unfazed, elevating the word “crisp” to new heights, while Carmen Marc Valvo reads dapper — jaunty, even. And Detroit native Tracy Reese is always ladylike and fresh, a perception amped up by a bouquet of flowers presented by a family member.

But behind the scenes, are they all sooooooo buttoned up? Do they break a sweat? How do they stay sane and healthy? We asked this group to give us a little insight into their Fashion Week world. What did we learn? Designers are people, too. Is it always glamorous? Um, not so much.

Tracy Reese

Stress factor 1-10: “Oh, gosh, can I say 20? But in reality, there is always stress surrounding Fashion Week, because at the end of the day, the team is dedicated to putting on the best show possible. We have a lot of shows under our belts, so when the time rolls around each year, we just have to know that we’ve got this handled.”

Fitness/health: “We are always in the office long hours leading up to Fashion Week, but I always love to squeeze in a Pilates class in the morning before work. I always feel very balanced throughout the day when I start it with a class. And lots of green juice and kale salads!”

Eating and cheating: “For a special treat, I love peanut butter on rice cakes. Always delicious and nutritious.”

All glam? “So many think the job is about the glamour and parties. In reality, the fashion industry is demanding and around-the-clock hard work. My friends know better by now!”

Good luck charm: “I have a special cross necklace that I wear daily — I never leave home without it. I guess you could say that is my good luck charm each season, as well.”

Carmen Marc Valvo

Stress factor 1-10: “The stress factor hits at the show when they go into the second look on the runway ... that’s when the panic hits. The shoe may not fit, or they put the dress on backwards — it’s happened — and one media outlet said it was brilliant! Then, it’s a 10.”

Fitness/health: “The month before fashion week, I work out twice a day. I go 20 to 30 miles on the bike, depending on my schedule. It’s 15 seconds of fame, and you don’t want to feel enormous on the runway.”

Eating and cheating: “I may cheat by having a bacon cheeseburger. It’s something I normally would never eat. I’ll do something bad like that, but Chris (his partner) can’t be around, or he’ll yell at me. I also drink two little glasses of wine, which I sip slowly.”

All glam? “They’re clueless. You get maybe 15 seconds of it. It’s hard work, late hours and an ungodly schedule. Every so often, you get to meet someone who is glamorous.”

Good luck charm: “I used to wear a stack of bracelets that said things like ‘strength,’ ‘creativity,’ ‘luck,’ but finally they started getting in the way, and I stopped that ritual 10 years ago.”

Donna Karan

Stress factor 1-10: “The scale only goes up to 10?!? Seriously, the stress factor is high, but so is the adrenaline. You just push forward and get it done. Thank God for deadlines.”

Fitness/health: “It’s not really pre-Fashion Week, it’s my lifestyle. I’m a yogi and practice every morning. Yoga gives me a sense of balance like nothing else. I also try to meditate — even for a few minutes — to help center myself and find the calm in the chaos.”

Eating and cheating: “For the most part, I try to eat well. I start every day with my green juice and have lots of raw snacks and raw cookies packed into my handbag. But I have a serious dark-chocolate addiction, too.”

All glam? “They should try being me for a week; the stress and deadlines would instantly change their minds.”

Good luck charm: “My granddaughter Stefania (she’s 10) usually visits the design room at some point. She’s my talisman.”

Michael Kors

Stress factor 1-10: “At this point, after more than 30 years, I’d say I’m about an 8. You don’t have the nerves that you have during the first few shows — you sort of know the routine, but you’ve invested so much time and so much of yourself into these pieces that you’re anxious to send them into the world and the reaction. The night before, I try not to read anything and usually watch something that really lets me turn my brain off. Then, when I wake up, it’s go time.”

Eating and cheating: “I eat the same lunch almost every day — either arugula salad or sashimi. But past a certain hour, it’s Doritos and dark chocolate.”

Good luck charm: “My sense of humor and a great black jacket.”

Badgley Mischka

Stress factor 1-10: Mark Badgley: “We are both Capricorns and usually try to contain the stress so that it doesn’t leach out to everybody else. Maybe 4 on the outside, 8 on the inside.”

Fitness/health: James Mischka: “We just try to keep everybody at the studio well and healthy, especially in the month before a show. We go through a lot of Emergen-C.” Badgley: “And Purell, especially this year.”

Eating and cheating: Mischka: “Since we need everybody every minute before the show, we cater all of the meals so they don’t waste time going out to get it. It’s always a trip around the world: Japanese one meal, Indian the next, then Mexican. But we always sneak in a few steaks at Keens.”

All glam? Badgley: “If they think it’s all about glamour every day, then they are not very close friends!” Mischka: “And if they do think it is, we let them continue to believe the lie!”

While it may look glamorous to the public, 'the fashion industry is demanding and around-the-clock hard work,' says Tracy Reese, whose collection was shown Sunday. / Bebeto Matthews / AP
Reese, right, a Detroit native, says, 'I always feel very balanced ... (Bebeto Matthews / AP)
Left: Michael Kors says, 'I eat the same lunch ... But past a certain hour, ... (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)