The romance of Shirley Muland and Alexis Houssou began as a potential real estate transaction. “Alexis was looking to start a project in New York,” Shirley recalls. “Kind of a Soho House but dedicated to music with recording studios, and he was looking to buy a building with investors. I was working in real estate investment at the time, so our friend Antoine connected us.
At the time, they were both in relationships with other people. Alexis’ project never took off, but the two became friends. Six years later, after experiencing painful breakups, they fell in love. “We got off to a slow start because Alexis became one of my closest friends, and I was afraid I would lose him as a friend if the relationship didn’t work out,” Shirley says. “Also, I lived in New York and he was in Paris, so the long distances were also difficult, but not only did I not losing a friend, I won a best friend and the most amazing partner. It started as a professional relationship that turned into a friendship and turned into a love affair.
Alexis, who was born and raised in Paris and is now the founder of a venture capital fund called HCVC, proposed to Shirley, a brand strategy, influence and communications advisor, on March 7, 2020 over a weekend -end in Lisbon. “It happened in the most romantic way,” says Shirley, “as the sun set on a boat sailing down the Tagus. I didn’t realize what he was trying to do when he first tried. times to get on his knees I thought he was falling from his seat on the boat so I helped him back up until he finally said ‘stop I’m not falling, I’m trying just to tell you something. We recorded everything on tape. It was my first time in Portugal, and I fell in love with Lisbon and its surrounding cities. At the end of the weekend, we decided that Portugal would be the place where we would get married.
Fortunately, the couple did not have to postpone or cut back on their marriage due to the pandemic. Yet it was still not easy to plan an event abroad. “We got engaged in March 2020, started planning in May 2020 for a wedding in the summer of 2021, but we quickly became concerned about the feasibility of all of this in the midst of a pandemic,” Shirley said. “We therefore decided to put the planning on hold for several months to try to have more visibility on the situation.” They resumed in November 2020 and worked with Joana Antunes on set, styling and coordination.
The civil ceremony took place on August 24, 2021, followed by a three-day celebration at L’AND Vineyards which began with a welcome dinner on the first evening. “Alexis and I share different experiences and also had friends from all over the world, so we decided to have a party celebrating our roots and asked our guests to come dressed in an outfit that reflects the place that they consider themselves to be at home, ”says Shirley. . “Alex’s mother is from Normandy in France and his father is from Benin in Africa. I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, grew up in Paris, France, and have lived in New York for 12 years and our friends have come from all over. In a world where our differences often divide us, we wanted to celebrate each other’s heritage and cultures. It was also a way for us to break the ice between our guests and for everyone to have something for them to strike up a conversation. To honor their African heritage with their outfits, Shirley and Alexis wore custom-made wax prints by designer Angela Peralba, who owns a store and brand in Paris called AWAXLAND.
Shirley has always been a fashion obsessive. Very young, her mother introduced her to all the designers of the 90s: Mugler, Christian Lacroix, Dior by Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, Paco Rabanne among others. From there, she got hooked. “[Meanwhile,] Alexis couldn’t care less about labels or what he wears as long as it’s clean, stylish and well-cut, ”she says. “He only cares about quality and fit. That’s something I love about him, his simplicity and how down to earth he is, which is the complete opposite of me. Both brought these particular approaches to the pieces they chose for the wedding wardrobes.
“For my wedding looks, I took inspiration from Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and stylist Danielle Goldberg, who are some of my favorite style icons,” said Shirley. “I admire their minimalist, clean, timeless yet sexy styles. They are effortlessly chic and cool, and I love it. They both wore simple white Calvin Klein dresses for their wedding and looked stunning. This is what I was trying to embody and achieve for the wedding: simple, timeless, yet sophisticated.
Shirley knew exactly where to find what she wanted, immediately turning to Galvan London for her dress. “You can never go wrong with a Galvan dress for any occasion,” she says. “They design simple yet sophisticated and sexy pieces that are timeless. You instantly feel good and confident in a Galvan room, and if there’s one day I want to feel that way, it’s my wedding day!
Last summer, Shirley and Galvan designer Anna-Christin Haas were both at a mutual friend’s birthday party and hit it off. “In October 2020, I went to the Galvan store in New York to try on dresses,” Shirley recalls. “I ended up buying the Mayfair dress. It is in silk satin and has an asymmetrical neckline and a spectacular silk belt that cascades down the back. It’s very elegant and an investment piece that I know I can re-wear outside of a wedding context, and this is the particularity of Galvan, their dresses can be re-worn endlessly.
Since she opted for a simple dress, Shirley wanted to have a veil with details. “Because my mom and sisters couldn’t make it to my dress tests in New York, we had a sailing test in Paris at Pronovias,” says Shirley. “I opted for a long tulle veil with a thick border of white scalloped Chantilly lace.
Bride’s friend Laura Martel is the head of the fine jewelry group at Chanel, and she let Shirley borrow jewelry for her wedding. “I shared photos of my dress and then she sent me a few options,” says Shirley. “I opted for a pair of earrings from the Camelia collection in white gold and diamonds, then the matching necklace to accompany my evening dress later that night. These pieces are so stylish and perfectly match the overall look I wanted. “
Shirley’s client, French own beauty brand La Bouche Rouge, offers a bespoke service for lipsticks, and CEO Nicolas Gerlier offered to create custom shades as a wedding gift. “One of my favorite makeup artists, Harold James, helped me create the shades,” she says. “We went with two shades, a nude pink for the ceremony which we called Ceremony and a red rose for the party which we simply called Party.”
Once there, Shirley worked with makeup artist Miguel Stapleton to achieve a natural beauty look. “I didn’t have a lot of direction to give, I just let him do it, and it was perfect,” she says. Hairstylist Lilia Costa has created a classic and elegant bun for the occasion.
The ceremony, like anything the couple wanted, was perfect in its simplicity. “Being a nun, I always wanted to get married in a church,” says the bride. “I was brought up in Catholicism, but I became a Protestant when I was 16. There was no Protestant church near our site, so we had to abandon this idea and have an official pastor on site.
The service took place in the afternoon, in the hotel garden, facing the lake. “We were both missing a parent for the ceremony, so we decided that Alexis’ dad would walk me down the aisle and my mom would walk Alexis down the aisle,” says Shirley. After the violinist started playing, marking the start of the ceremony, the flower girls – Alexis’ nieces, Salome and Josephine – paraded down the aisle, tossing rose petals from a small basket. “They couldn’t have been more adorable in their matching dresses, shoes and flower crowns, they were real angels,” says Shirley.
“Alexis and I were proud to have been so relaxed along the way,” says Shirley, “… until a car picked me up from my mother’s suite to take me there. entrance to the hotel! [At that point,] I started to get nervous and was overcome with a wave of emotions that I didn’t see coming. But when I saw Alexis waiting for me in the aisle, all that stress immediately disappeared. I lit up instantly, and felt very present throughout the ceremony but still very emotional. I got it all and felt so happy to see all of our friends and families here with us after all these months of planning and uncertainty. I felt grateful to be in front of Alexis, finally on the verge of becoming husband and wife.
After pronouncing husband and wife, the newlyweds signed their marriage certificates and joined the guests, who were waiting for them to congratulate them with a cocktail in hand. A saxophonist played as the couple took photos – and when Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” kicked off, Shirley knew it was time to kick the bouquet. “I didn’t expect what happened next,” she says. “A fierce battle between my mother and my sister Cynthia and no one wanted to let go! But Cynthia ended up winning. It was quite shocking and hilarious at the same time! The dinner was followed by touching speeches from family members. Then Shirley donned a second Galvan dress and the dance party continued until 4:00 am.