Society / Profiles

From His Architecturally Significant Dallas Home, Venetian Designer Alvise Orsini Reminisces on a Simpler Time

A Look Back at His International Career, and a Winter in the Caribbean

BY // 07.28.20

Alvise Orsini moved to Dallas a few years ago when his husband, Geoffroy van Raemdonck, was appointed CEO of Neiman Marcus after a successful tenure at Ralph Lauren. The two relocated from Paris with their toddler twins, Charles and Hadrian — the latter, named for the emperor known for his building projects throughout the Roman Empire, not to mention Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain. The twins are now four. “They are a gang,” Alvise says lovingly, with a hint of the exhaustion that comes from rearing young children.

When I interviewed Alvise, social distancing was in full force. He flung open the dramatic, classically paneled door of his family’s Lakewood home and greeted me with exaggerated air-kisses. The architecturally significant home, whose previous pedigreed owners include some Hunts, is Italian Renaissance-inspired, designed by architect Anton Korn in the 1920s. It seems straight out of a Rudolph Valentino film — apropos, given the old Hollywood glamour exuded by its current owners. Think a pairing of Cary Grant and Errol Flynn.

The couple enchants everyone they meet with charm, wit, and mellifluous accents (Alvise is Italian; Geoffroy hails from Belgium) as they share stories of their fabled lives. One of those is the tale of how they met: at a luncheon that Geoffroy, while working at Louis Vuitton, was hosting during the Venice Biennale. Alvise was born in Venice, where his parents and older sister still live. He attended a high school that specialized in the arts, then studied architecture in college. During that time, his matinee idol looks were noticed, and he began modeling; indeed, it’s hard not to get lost in his azure eyes when he talks about subjects that are important to him, from performing arts groups in Dallas to his latest design remodel in Highland Park. In his early 20s, he worked for a contemporary art gallery in Paris. He fondly recalls those carefree years living among elegant sophisticates who were amused by his joie de vivre.

Next, he moved to London, where he remained for 15 years. There he founded Orsini Design, a full-service interior and commercial architecture and design firm. He also served as head of design for French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. His voice slows a moment when discussing that era, in hushed respect to a man he feels privileged to call both mentor and friend. They designed homes all over Europe, an experience that Alvise says refined his tastes and ability to adeptly juggle projects around the globe.

The wedding couple, Alvise Orsini and Geoffroy van Raemdonck, both in Ralph Lauren

Alvise’s exquisite style ranges from great drama to great restraint, when needed. He’s been known to cover walls in mink or extravagant Chinese wallpaper, but his greatest achievement, he says, comes from creating something that mirrors a client’s personality and lifestyle. Whether classical or modern, embellished and baroque, or clean lined minimalism, he delights in any challenge put before him.

Even though Alvise’s plate might seem terribly full, he always finds time to give back to Dallas, the community he now considers
home. He and his husband are NorthPark Ambassadors and have chosen the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where Geoffroy serves on the board, as the beneficiary of their work. Alongside Ann Hobson, Alvise has been enlisted to launch the Friends of Klyde Warren Park. He now speaks with passion about the outdoor haven in the middle of the Dallas Arts District — and the role it will play when we once again come together as a community.

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  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)

Approximate date.
Winter 2000.

Occasion.
A trip to Mustique for my birthday.

What you were wearing.
I guess it was Sundek swim trunks and a too-dressy cotton shirt.

What price fashion.
Seriously? Who knows. I do remember one of the first luxury items I purchased was when I went to Florence with a friend to do some proper High Street shopping. I bought a beautiful Dries Van Noten T-shirt. It was the most staggering price I had ever paid.

Why it’s special.
I was in my 20s, living in London, looking good, and starting my life as an interior designer. It’s a coming-of-age picture of a young Venetian in love with travel, architecture, and good times!

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