Kristen Shirley is an expert on luxury goods and travel. Her comprehensive writings have appeared in many of the world’s top print and digital publications, including Forbes.com, Bloomberg Businessweek, Travel + Leisure, Departures, Robb Report, Nobleman, Iconic Life, The World of Fine Wine, BusinessInsider.com, Watchonista.com, and Editorialist.com.
Shirley began her career in the fashion department at ELLE, where she developed a passion for haute couture, jewelry, and beauty. She later became Luxury Editorial Director at Elite Traveler. During her time there, she traversed the globe, penning pieces on Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels, vintage wine, top-shelf and limited-release spirits, and fine timepieces. Her interest in enology led her to pursue the Level 3 Award in Wine from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, which she earned with distinction. Shirley also holds the Applied Jewelry Certificate from the Gemological Institute of America.
IF: Describe your relationship with your hair.
I love my hair, and I definitely believe that having a good or bad hair day can affect your mood. I’m lucky to have long hair that responds well to products. I get a de-frizz treatment once or twice a year, then rely on Iles Formula for the rest.
IF: What is your favorite Iles Formula product?
The Haute Performance Conditioner is absolutely incredible. It makes my hair sleek, shiny, and soft, no matter the weather.
IF: Do you have a favorite decade in terms of hairstyles?
I love the glamorous waves of the 1930s, but I’m not talented enough to pull it off myself.
IF: Please share your favorite beauty tip.
Aquaphor is my secret weapon for nearly all beauty problems. I apply it on my face after moisturizing in really dry climates, it keeps my cuticles moisturized and can even remove eye makeup in a pinch.
IF: Please share a little about your journey to become an editor and entrepreneur.
I always knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry, so I majored in French and took Italian classes at Georgetown. I figured if I knew the languages of fashion, I could do whatever I wanted with them. My first job was being a fashion assistant at ELLE magazine, where I learned everything about fashion, editing, and styling from some of the most talented editors in the business. I worked at ELLE for six years, then left the fashion industry for the luxury world at Elite Traveler magazine. There, I became a writer in addition to an editor and learned about all aspects of luxury, including travel, food, wine, spirits, watches, jewelry, and, of course, beauty.
I found it difficult to learn the basics about a lot of these categories. There are so many incredible sites out there, but they all assume a baseline of knowledge or focus on news. Once I became an expert, I decided to start my own company to share that knowledge. I launched La Patiala, the luxury encyclopedia, in 2022, and it’s been very exciting to watch the company grow and to share my knowledge of the luxury world.
IF: What is the most inspiring thing you’ve learned over the course of your career?
I’m very passionate about responsible travel. It’s really incredible to see how much of a positive impact that travel can have on communities around the world. There’s job creation, of course, but also a great deal of cultural and environmental conservation that comes from traveling and exploring the world.
IF: If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be a fashion executive at a French fashion house.
IF: What’s your favorite destination for holiday travel?
I love a great beach! Right now, I’m exploring the different countries of the Caribbean, searching for my favorite one.
IF: What’s a New York secret or insider’s tip you would share with a first-time visitor?
The Edge is a new tourist spot that offers unbelievable views of the city, but visiting is kind of a nightmare with long lines, sometimes even with timed tickets. If you make a reservation at Peak, the restaurant just above it, you can enjoy the same sublime views without hordes of tourists with selfie sticks. The restaurant is fantastic, especially the raw bar. After your meal, you can walk down to the viewing platform and skip the line.
IF: Do you have a favorite New Yorker of all time?
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was not only one of the most fabulous and stylish New Yorkers, but she was instrumental in saving some of the city’s iconic buildings, including Grand Central Terminal.