Putting a collection together takes a lot of energy. Getting it onto the runway, even more. Here’s how a handful of designers fuel up before their really big shows.

Before unveiling his collection at the London Hilton on Park Lane each season, Julien Macdonald relies on Galvin at Windows, the hotel’s restaurant, for his preshow meal. “I trust them implicitly,” Macdonald gushes. “They make me feel the most special and really understand the constraints and stress of the day.”


Serves 4

12 oz. dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa solids
1 1/8 cup, or 9 fluid oz., double cream
5 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Tiny pieces of edible gold leaf, optional
To serve:
4 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup prepared raspberry coulis
1/2 cup raspberries
Fill a pot one-third to half full with water. Bring to a simmer. Chop the chocolate and melt in a glass bowl over the pot of simmering water until the chocolate is runny but not too warm. Remove from heat.

Heat the double cream in a separate pan just until bubbles form on the surface. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, add the melted butter and whisk together. (As the mix cools it will begin to thicken.)

Place small pieces of edible gold leaf in four ramekins and pour in chocolate mixture on top.

Chill for 2 to 3 hours until set.

To serve, turn out the chocolate molds onto serving plates, dipping the ramekins briefly in hot water to loosen them. Place a scoop of the ice cream on top of the chocolate, pour on the raspberry coulis and decorate with fresh raspberries.

Let’s be frank: Preshow meals are all well and good, but what a designer (and staff) could use most around call time is a tall, stiff drink. Phillip Lim relaxes with an original concoction named for him by Nam chef Kien Truong, called “The Salty Lim.” Based on a traditional nonalcoholic Asian drink made with preserved salted lime juice, it tastes like “lemonade with a bit of saltiness,” Truong says. But since Lim’s no lush, he pairs the cocktail with a light meal of red snapper with chili lime sauce. Bottoms up.

Makes one

1 lime
Pinch of salt
Absolut vodka
Tonic water

In a glass, combine the juice of half of a lime with the salt. Add 1 to 2 oz. of vodka, fill the glass with ice and top off with tonic.

“Once you know what he does not like, Monsieur is easy to feed,” says Joël Sourd, Karl Lagerfeld’s private chef for almost 20 years. Given his heavy workload, demanding schedule, high-energy disposition and wardrobe of slim-cut pants, the designer of Chanel, Fendi and his own label subsists mainly on fish, white meat, fruits and vegetables. That said, Sourd notes: “He has a hearty appetite and eats an appetizer, main course and dessert at every meal.”


Serves 4

5 tbs. and 4 tsp. olive oil  
10 oz. spinach
1 white onion, sliced
1 red pepper, peeled and diced
1 eggplant, peeled and diced
8 langoustines, peeled and deveined
2 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. cumin seeds
8 chanterelles
1 zucchini, peeled and diced
1 bunch of basil

Heat 2 tbs. of olive oil in a pan. Briefly
sauté the spinach until wilted; remove
from pan, drain. Add sliced onion, red pepper and eggplant in a hot frying pan
with 3 tbs. of olive oil. Stir often so they stay crunchy.

Drain the vegetables from the pan and add cumin seeds and salt and pepper.

Coat the langoustines with mustard, add 2 tsp. of olive oil to a hot frying pan and cook them a few seconds on each side.

Fry the chanterelles in 1 tsp. of hot olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Remove from pan.

Fry the zucchini in 1 tsp. of hot olive oil. Add the snipped basil, salt and pepper. Remove from pan.

Arrange the eggplant, onion, red pepper and spinach in layers in a flan dish. Remove the outer ring.

Set the langoustines at the center of the plate and pour their juices over them.

Add the chanterelles and zucchini.

One would expect Valentino to name the most lavish and extravagant of dishes for his pre-collection meal. After all, this is the man whose recent 45th anniversary dinner included avocado mousseline, lime-spiked fish and handmade semifreddo. His napkins were specially embroidered in India, and more than 3,000 custom-made plates were ordered. Surely, his glamorous menu doesn’t wane during the shows. Think again. “I always enjoy a good plate of spaghetti con pomodoro e basilico,” the designer says matter-of-factly, deferring to the Cipriani recipe. “It is a simple dish that sets the standard.”

Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 tbs. minced onion
12 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup firmly packed basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 lb. spaghetti
1 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for the table
Freshly ground pepper
6 fresh basil leaves for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Start sauce preparation by heating olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and let it cook until golden, then discard. Add onion and cook until softened but not brown—roughly 3 or 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper and cook over high heat for 3 minutes. Stir in the basil and cook for another minute. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add salt to the boiling pot of water and add spaghetti. Cook for about 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain well in a colander and add spaghetti to skillet along with the softened butter and Parmesan cheese. Toss well to combine. Place spaghetti on a heated platter and garnish with fresh basil.

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