Karen Walker’s 5 Favourite Short Story Authors

Proud bibliophile and arbiter of good taste, Karen Walker is never short of a reading recommendation. STYLE asks the designer what’s currently keeping her up at night.

The last half hour of each day for me is always spent with a book; usually novels – classic or contemporary; sometimes essays; very occasionally biography. Earlier on in this pandemic business I found it very hard to concentrate on reading and had many false starts. Eventually I discovered the simple answer: short stories. I revisited some old favourites, picked up ones that had been on the reading pile for years and dove into a couple of new discoveries. My top five short-storytellers are:


One of our greatest artists and one of my favourite writers of all time. I’m a sucker for modernism and she is a master of this. I love In A German Pension but if you’re only going to read one or two of hers, the obvious choices are The Garden Party and, especially, The Doll’s House, which is one of the saddest pieces of writing you’ll ever meet. Her birthplace in Wellington is an astonishing jewel and a must-visit.


Set mostly in the New York of the ’50s and ’60s, Paley’s stories bump about between moving, hilarious, tragic; the personal, political and feminist.
Mostly they happen at kitchen sinks and kitchen tables and on apartment stoops. Her gift for painting characters is incredible; just one example of many I love, when describing a dead father: “He had an unhappy smell. His teeth fell out, his hair disappeared, he got smaller, shrivelled up little by little, till goodbye and good luck he was gone and only came to Mama’s mind when she went to the mailbox under the stairs to get the electric bill.” Her dialogue is equally brilliant.



I love Pushkin’s life-story, which I dove into after visiting a former home of his in Odessa, Ukraine. He was exiled there by Tzar Alexander I in 1823 for general disruption and bad behaviour. His life was one of naughtiness and brilliance, trouble-making and partying and not caring about consequences. I love him for that, and his sheer genius. He’s not best-known for his short stories but they do carry you away. The Queen of Spades, one of his most famous, is a cautionary tale that takes you on a fast and furious journey of silliness, hope and despair.


I love all that I’ve read of Italo Calvino, but The Baron in the Trees is, for me, his most charming and poetic. A story about independence and stubbornness, its central character is a boy who, after arguing with his father, climbs a tree and spends the rest of his life there. A little longer than most, this particular piece is possibly more of a novel than a short story, but dig into any of Calvino’s oeuvre and I promise you, you’ll be delighted.


The cover of Some Trick caught my eye first, followed by its comparison to Gogol – very high praise indeed. I’ve only read half of the stories so far but have loved them all. Unpredictable and funny and brilliant.

The Most-searched Beauty Trends of 2020

Like everything else, we couldn’t have predicted the beauty trends that would influence our lives in 2020.

Or should that be, our lives in 2020 that would influence our beauty trends.

In a year dominated by a global pandemic, the way we looked, cared for our hair, treated our breakouts and applied our makeup were all heavily influenced by spending significant chunks of time at home. 

When they close the hairdressers… 

During the first months of the lockdown Google revealed ‘How to cut men’s hair’, ‘how to cut your own hair’ and ‘how to cut bangs’ (a fringe) hit a peak, leaving hairstylists to shudder and then tidy up the aftermath a month or two later. 

But in terms of the entire 12 months, some of the biggest beauty trends we searched up included dealing to those roots with DIY hair colour and toners, according to Vogue. 


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“Even though trends such as purple shampoo were growing before lockdown, time at home accelerated interest for toning-related products as consumers became more educated on how to DIY color hair, ” Yarden Horwitz, co-founder of trend forecasting platform Spate told the title. 

Also key for up top? Home care products like hair masks and serums and easy-to-maintain hairstyles such as the bob, general short haircuts and braids.

We had more time on our hands

Potentially to make ourselves feel better about ditching makeup altogether for some of 2020, related queries feature ‘Kylie Jenner no makeup’ and ‘Cardi B no makeup’ in top NZ makeup searches. 


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On both ends of the effort spectrum, ‘eye makeup looks’, and ‘natural makeup looks’ both top NZ searches reflecting the overall move to emphasize the eyes in the era of mask-wearing, as well as working from home meaning a ‘less is more’ aesthetic became the go-to approach for many.

But when we were ready to experiment? We went with the experimental more-is-more approach given searches for ‘Euphoria makeup’ are up 300%.

“Social media and time at home is exposing consumers to more influencer content, creating stronger demand for looks such as the e-girl and Euphoria aesthetics,” says Horwitz. 

Sparking Joy

The time on our hands seems also to have prompted the Marie Kondo effect to extend to our beauty routines as ‘makeup organiser’ searches are up 300% in NZ. 

Beauty retailer Cult Beauty also revealed we’re definitely more interested in the key ingredients of our skincare and experimenting with new products. Matching the tidal wave of new products that hero one or two key ingredients we know to be beneficial for our skin, the beauty specialist revealed the top skincare searches included the following: Vitamin C, Retinol, Castor Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and squalane.

A skincare related hero of the year showing up in NZ-based google searches? TikTok breakout star Skincare by Hyram, aka Hyram Yarbro, the Hawaiian-based influencer with a love of SPF and affordable brands like The Ordinary, who picked up 6.7million followers and counting on the platform this year and has also expanded his following in a massive way on YouTube and Instagram.