George Malkemus, the CEO of Manolo Blahnik, gave that quote to The Wall Street Journal, which just published an exposé of one of the great secrets of the fashion world: Malkemus and the other top-ranking executive at Manolo Blahnik, vice-president Tony Yurgaitis, run a dairy farm. Called Arethusa, it produces milk that's allegedly finer and certainly costlier than most. Its 23 retail accounts include Whole Foods, where you can buy a half-gallon for $4.49 — or more than twice the national retail average.
What you're paying for, as with a Manolo Blahnik shoe, is quality. This isn't fast milk produced without thought or imagination by ripping off another dairy farmer's design — this milk comes from well-bred, very well-cared-for cows that are treated like ladies.
In fact, they began racking up awards in 2004, when Melanie and Veronica won prizes in the 2004 World Dairy Expo. (Though Vogue contributor André Leon Talley said, "I didn't quite understand it," the PR director at the time, still nostalgic for the rural Wisconsin where he grew up, wrote them a congratulatory note.) But of course Melanie and Veronica won. They were looking and feeling their best that day, as always:
Arethusa cultivates an aura of haute-living heifers. A sign above their abode reads: "Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such."
They munch on the finest, protein-enriched hay and rest upon soft wood shavings from Canada. Workers vacuum their bodies on a daily basis in a spa-like room. ("There's not a single fly" on any cow, boasts Mr. Malkemus.)
To plump up their coats and tails, cows are treated with some of the same beauty products used by ladies who lunch. Brands like Artec shampoo are slathered on dark-haired cows, while Pantene is preferred for the blonder bovines.
One dairy farmer sneers that, while his barns may not be like the Ritz, Arethusa's milk isn't even organic since the cows get antibiotics when they're sick. So he passes Arethusa's milk off as "conventional." Fine. We all know there's nothing conventional about a cow that pays more attention to its choice of shampoo in relation to its hair color than the average human.