“I always knew that I wanted to write about fashion,” said Aria Hughes, the editorial creative director of Complex, a global youth entertainment network that covers pop culture, style, food, music, sneakers and sports.
Case in point: When she visited her parents in Virginia recently, she discovered a mock-up of a magazine page layout she’d made when she was about 12, she said, that “was basically how hip-hop artists love Chanel. And I had drawn pearls around the border.”
After graduating from the University of Maryland, she moved to New York City in 2009, eventually joining Women’s Wear Daily as a men’s reporter. She then moved on to Complex, where she worked as their deputy style editor. Last spring, she became the first woman to be appointed to Complex’s top editorial position.
Ms. Hughes, 36, who lives in Harlem’s Sugar Hill neighborhood, said she is a “homebody” who enjoys her solitude but tries to go outside when she can.
“You come across this in Harlem, which sometimes is weird, but you see a bunch of tourist groups,” she said. “It’s a reminder that where you live is a destination.”
BED, PHONE I probably wake up at about 7 a.m. I’m hoping this will change, but I spend a great deal of my early, early morning hours on my phone, checking out socials, emails, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, just getting oriented with what I might have missed. I probably do that for about an hour, and then I like to get up and get out because it’s very easy for me to just stay in the bed and distract myself with a screen.
CALM SPACE I’ll walk over to this coffee shop. It’s called the Oma Shop, it’s Black-owned, by a young lady named Lizzy Okpo. She runs a fashion brand with her sister, Darlene, called William Okpo. I remember when it opened, I was just so delighted because it looks like a place that should be in, like, Santa Fe. It’s this really calm space. It’s small, but she sells beauty products and ceramics and candles. And I’m not a big coffee drinker, I usually do tea, but whenever I go there, I usually order their Oma rose latte. It’s warm and nourishing and really flavorful.
MATINEE I’m a big walker. And walking through Harlem on a Sunday is one of my favorite things to do. On a perfect Sunday, I’ll walk down to 120th and catch a matinee movie at the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 theater, which I just realized is no longer owned by Magic Johnson, but it’s still branded that way. So it feels like a piece of history and another location that like, although it’s owned by AMC, I want to continue to support it because it’s my neighborhood movie theater. I also love watching movies in a Black audience. It brings a whole different level of entertainment to it.
SAMBUSAS BY THE WINDOW For lunch, there’s an Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem called Abyssinia. What I like to do on the weekends is escape “the scene” that is New York, and thankfully, Harlem provides lots of opportunities to do that. And it’s just so low key. It’s low frills. It’s not like a fancy spot, but it’s always warm and welcoming and the food is always good. I’ll get a veggie combo and some meat sambusas. Also, I like to sit near the window because one of my favorite things to do when I’m out and about is to look at what all the kids are wearing.
PARK BENCH Harlem has lots of beautiful parks and my favorite right now is Morningside Park. It’s really gorgeous. It has this beautiful pond, and during the summer and spring, a weeping willow tree. I remember through the end of November, they had this really beautiful photo exhibit called “Faces of Harlem.” These beautiful portraits of Black people from Harlem lined the gates of the park. And I’ll just hang out on the bench by the pond. I’m a water sign, so any type of water kind of like calms me down before a busy workweek. Sometimes I’m listening to a podcast, sometimes I’m listening to music, sometimes I’m listening to nothing.
STROLLING THE STALLS I’ll continue to walk down to the Upper West Side to the Grand Bazaar. They have all types of vendors; they have food vendors, clothing vendors. They have a few vintage vendors that I like to check out. I’ve bought a cute beach hat there, and there’s like a linen vendor who makes really great linen shirts. It’s very much a casual, low-key bazaar, which I appreciate.
FRESH FARE I can cook, but I’m not a cook. I don’t like to spend a bunch of time in the kitchen. Quite frankly, I don’t have the time. But I do like to hit up a farmer’s market. So I usually go to the 77th/79th Street Greenmarket outside of the American Museum of Natural History. I’ll get whatever produce looks good. Sometimes I’ll get some interesting cheeses. I love to get lettuce there because it always makes such a big difference in salads. I’m always eating blueberries and raspberries in my oatmeal, so I’ll always get a berry. If it’s fall and they have apples, I’ll get apples — just to snack on, mostly. Easy food you can grab to eat. Boring things that I know will taste really good if they’re fresh.
HEARTY, HOME-COOKED Sunday is usually the day where I make myself a home-cooked meal. Maybe it’s a ritual from childhood, but I just like to make dinner for myself. It’s probably me doctoring up some chicken shawarma from Trader Joe’s in coconut milk and jasmine rice and spinach, just making a nice hearty meal to end the day. And I like to do it as early as I can just so I can be done with it and enjoy my meal. And then I always treat myself to a dessert on Sundays. I mean, I treat myself to dessert all the time, but on Sundays, I always say yes. It’s usually a Trader Joe’s mini ice cream cone or just some type of small, sweet treat.
HOUSEWIFE ANTICS For me, Sunday is Bravo night. I want to be relaxing in bed by the time those shows come on. Usually two different franchises of “The Real Housewives” will come on back to back. And then the night is over.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Aria Hughes on Twitter or Instagram @ariahughes.
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