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In Amsterdam, a Mostly Vegan, All Cashmere Feast

At 1 o’clock each weekday, a cowbell rings contained in the Excessive Cashmere headquarters in Amsterdam, calling the corporate’s 20 workers to lunch. A communal meal has been a ritual for Saskia Dijkstra since she based the knitwear model in 2016, after 20 years spent sourcing cashmere for luxurious labels together with Jil Sander and Joseph. Even when the group numbered simply 4, because it did for the primary three years, Dijkstra would pause work at noon to go grocery procuring, set the desk and cook dinner a easy however hearty meal. “A very good sweater makes you’re feeling good, however good meals additionally makes you’re feeling significantly better,” she says.

Meals have, by necessity, developed for the reason that firm expanded and moved into its new headquarters in December 2021. Excessive Cashmere now occupies the primary flooring and basement of a Seventeenth-century canal-side mansion within the picturesque Grachtengordel neighborhood. The constructing beforehand housed a publishing firm and a women’ faculty. Now, one first-floor room overlooking the rear backyard has been transformed right into a stainless-steel kitchen, overseen by an in-house chef, whereas the adjoining parlor — a room with shiny crimson partitions and a Delft-tile fire — serves as an consuming space. The basement laundry amenities have additionally been dedicated to a collective home endeavor: Workers wash their very own cashmere clothes right here and lay them flat on towels to dry.Dijkstra feels notably obsessed with garment care. She recommends Miele washing machines to prospects and contains intensive repairs directions with orders. As soon as, she met a buyer on the road whose sweater, she felt, was not being correctly maintained and he or she took it dwelling to scrub it herself.

Buckets of ilex berries enlivened the wood-paneled room, enjoying off the crimson of the partitions.Credit score…Jeremy Meek
As workers completed up their work, Crémant and Champagne have been served within the model’s showroom amongst knitwear samples.Credit score…Jeremy Meek

For Dijkstra, good knitwear is well worth the hassle. After 20 years of “making sweaters with concessions,” as she places it, she based Excessive Cashmere in an try to supply uncompromising high quality. “I wished to make one of the best sweater on the planet, and I simply knew I had to purchase the longest fiber size, knit it as tight as attainable and never use any chemical substances,” she says. She added a tiny quantity of elastane, which provides the sweaters their supple bounce, and initially selected to maintain the branding nameless, solely including a label when a pissed off buyer had hassle monitoring her down to purchase a second piece. “I used to be allergic to branding in the beginning as a result of I had seen how the trade was not about product any extra, it was about campaigns,” she explains.

She additionally dispenses with standard company knowledge by providing unisex, one-size-fits-most clothes — principally sweaters, clothes and pants — and equipment. Dijkstra says that her items, that are made in Hong Kong from Mongolian cashmere, will be worn year-round (the label makes cashmere crop tops and scorching pants for summer season) and for all events (its web site suggests cream cashmere gloves for nuptials). “The bottom line is to make the arms lengthy,” says Dijkstra of her one-size system. The very best-selling Juna crew-neck sweater, for example, is beneficiant on her body, pooling over her wrists, however a snug match on the seven-foot-tall Minnesota Timberwolves basketball participant Karl-Anthony Cities, who not too long ago wore it in melon pink for a courtside look.

A dessert of meringue and berries matched the gingham tablecloth, an organization signature.Credit score…Jeremy Meek

Reveling in her newly spacious headquarters, Dijkstra has moved past lunches to determine a practice of festive dinners, with group members pitching in to cook dinner and adorn. Earlier this month, she threw a jubileum (the Dutch phrase for the celebration of a particular occasion) dinner to mark each the upcoming vacation and the five-year work anniversary of the label’s designer, Jules ten Velde. Amongst these invited have been ten Velde’s mother and father, Bert and Sientje ten Velde; René Eijdenberg, a strategic adviser to Dijkstra for the reason that firm’s founding; and most of Excessive Cashmere’s workers.

As friends started to reach at 6 p.m. that Friday, dialog centered on ten Velde’s namesake aspect undertaking, a set of white ruffled clothes that he’s making ready to indicate to the press. Within the kitchen, the chef Camille Maria, who repeatedly cooks for Excessive Cashmere occasions, was joined by the model’s head of communications, Wies Verhoofstad, an in depth buddy who performed sous-chef. The inspiration for the meal was a family-style Christmas dinner and the menu was vegetarian, with just a few totally plant-based dishes for the keto-vegan visitor of honor. Shared dishes included entire roasted celeriac served with Café de Paris sauce (an herb-infused butter normally served with steak); cauliflower with beurre noisette; roasted pumpkin with radicchio and burrata; roasted new potatoes with chives; and brussels sprouts with lemon and caramelized shallots. For dessert, friends loved meringue with recent winter berries in addition to slices of Roquefort.

Whereas Dijkstra set the desk, different staffers have been on flower obligation. “There’s no competitors inside the group, and I treasure that,” she says. “Individuals are so respectful to one another — and we’ve lots of enjoyable.” Right here, she shares her ideas for internet hosting a equally festive feast.

The desk was laid with candles and velvety pink dahlias, a favourite of the visitor of honor. The flowers have been lower on the neck to take a seat flat on the desk, the higher for friends to admire them.Credit score…Jeremy Meek

Set a Glowing Temper

“We used to begin with vodka, then sooner or later we determined to complete with vodka,” says Dijkstra, with amusing, of the corporate’s group meals. She herself prefers pink wine to glowing, however to create a celebratory really feel for this dinner, and on the behest of the group, she kicked off the night with Crémant and Champagne (“by no means prosecco,” she says) when friends arrived, together with meaty inexperienced olives bought from Casa del Gusto, an area Italian deli. Plates of crudités — radishes, carrots and fennel — have been ready by a number of group members and served with olive oil and butter, together with pane carasau, a Sardinian cracker. Later, friends moved on to Spanish Grenache pink wine, which Dijkstra and her group found at Zoldering, a neighborhood bistro that has hosted a number of Excessive Cashmere celebrations. “I like wine however I do know nothing about it,” says Dijkstra, who depends on the sommelier at Zoldering for recommendation.

In lieu of a Christmas tree, large bunches of branches, organized in metal buckets by group members together with the pinnacle of gross sales, Nisse van Rossum, pictured right here alongside a cashmere-clad model, created a festive ambiance.Credit score…Jeremy Meek

Skip the Vases

To keep away from crowding the tabletop and blocking dialog between friends, Dijkstra typically dispenses with vessels when adorning with recent flowers. Earlier than the dinner, a number of group members drove to the close by flower market to select up seasonal berries and large bunches of dahlias, ten Velde’s favourite flowers. The blooms have been snipped on the neck in order that the deep pink and burgundy blossoms could possibly be laid flat on the desk, permitting friends to admire them up shut. In the meantime, tangled armfuls of ilex branches, full with shiny pink berries, have been organized loosely in easy metallic buckets and positioned across the eating room and marble-floored entrance corridor in a nod to conventional vacation décor.

Meals was served on mismatched classic crockery.Credit score…Jeremy Meek

Decide up the Examine

“We all the time have a gingham tablecloth. It’s like a bistro — conventional, easy, cozy,” says Dijkstra, who grew up in France and has a Gallic appreciation for cafe tradition. The relaxed ambiance was underscored by low wood stools and mismatched plates, which Verhoofstad repeatedly buys in bulk from Golden Bend, the antiques store throughout the road from the workplace that sells china from defunct American lodges. Reasonably than stemmed wine glasses, there have been tumblers from Family {Hardware}, a Dutch dwelling items retailer. “Smaller glasses give a extra homey feeling,” says Dijkstra, whose Spotify playlist accomplished the nice and cozy temper. “We begin with Paolo Conte, then transfer on to Queen, Supertramp and Robyn, which is once we’re all dancing on the tables,” she says.

Sharing plates of roasted greens, together with pumpkin with radicchio and burrata, have been handed out to friends.Credit score…Jeremy Meek

By no means Skip Cheese

Produce for the meal was primarily sourced from the native greengrocer, Frank Vork’s, in addition to the close by Italian deli. “I used to be raised in France the place meals is a giant a part of the tradition, so I hate supermarkets. I prefer to go to specialty shops,” says Dijkstra. An exception to the plant-based menu was made for a cheese course, which is a nonnegotiable group custom. “There may be all the time salty blue cheese with port, that’s a giant factor for us,” says Dijkstra. Roquefort was procured from Fromagerie Abraham Kef, a cheese store that’s an establishment in Amsterdam, and laid on platters with grapes and nutty crackers.

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