Karim Kharbouch, better known by his stage name French Montana, was getting dressed at the Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel, where he was staying while touring with the Weeknd. Six necklaces, two chain bracelets, a watch and a ruby ring — each dripping in diamonds — were laid out on a towel before him.

“Justin Bieber gave me that for my birthday,” said Mr. Montana, pointing to the chain bracelet. “When he gave it to me, it wasn’t like that. I put the diamonds on it.”

Mr. Montana’s choice of jewelry for the day.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Mr. Montana, whose song “Unforgettable” was one of last summer’s anthems, was getting ready for a homecoming of sorts.

Born in Morocco and raised in the Bronx, the 33-year-old rapper was heading up to Sammy’s Fashion, a beloved street wear emporium on Fordham Road where he and his friends used to spend all their money on Timberland boots and Vanson jackets when they were teenagers.

“Every time we wanted to see girls, we’d go to Fordham,” said Mr. Montana, who lived about 10 minutes away by foot in a one-bedroom apartment in East Tremont. “It was packed.”

It was around 4 p.m. on one of the first cold days in October, and his crew, which consisted of his assistant Maria Gialouris, Rana Reeves (the creative director of Sean Combs’s agency) and a bodyguard, Shadow, piled into a black S.U.V. Mr. Montana usually hangs out with a larger posse (check his Instagram feed), so he phoned others to join him.

“Look at me, I look like a Skittles commercial,” he said to his brother Zack Kharbouch on FaceTime, showing off the fuchsia-colored Ami sweater picked out by his stylist. “We are heading up to the Bronx, meet us there.”

After hanging up, Mr. Montana pulled up the music video on his iPhone for his latest song, “Famous.” It was filmed in Chefchaouen, a city in Morocco known for its azure-blue buildings, and which is a couple of hours from the village where he lived until he was 13. (His father and most of his extended family still live there. He is also setting up a music school there in partnership with Global Citizen and Mama Hope.)

The rapper showing his bodyguard, Shadow, a video of someone on Instagram dancing to his song “Unforgettable.”CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

“I’m still working like an intern,” Mr. Montana said, laughing, finally looking up from his phone. He rattled off a list of things he’d done in the past 24 hours: performed alongside Mariah Carey at a V Magazine party at the Top of the Standard honoring Karl Lagerfeld; visited the set of “The After Party,” a movie produced by Russell Simmons and others, in which he plays himself; and went to a club near Gramercy Park to “make sure his record was being played,” he said.

It was a particularly gray day, an abrupt contrast to the sunny weather Mr. Montana enjoys at his home in Calabasas, Calif. As the S.U.V. inched up the F.D.R. Drive, he started to get antsy. “Is everyone going to Fordham?” he said.

It took 45 minutes to reach Sammy’s Fashion. “It’s a celebrity!” said a woman who was waiting for a bus when he stepped out of the S.U.V.

“I hear you on the radio,” the woman at center yelled as Mr. Montana got out of the car.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Mr. Montana entered the brightly lit store, where almost every inch of the 4,000 square feet was covered in street wear, including bedazzled hoodies, heavily whiskered denim and men’s leisure wear. Opened in 1997 by Sammy Igbara, a Bronx native and self-described denim enthusiast, the store offers aspirational fashion at affordable prices. And if a customer wants to splurge on a Rolex Sky Dweller covered in diamonds, Sammy’s has that, too.

“Long time no see,” said Eitan Aliav from behind a jewelry counter, where prices reach five figures. He pulled out 14-karat-gold chain valued at $20,000. “This is completely iced out.” Then he whipped out his phone and starting recording. “Guess who’s back, people,” he said to his 76,000 Instagram followers.

Eitan Aliav, also known at Ace da Jeweler, caters to Sammy’s Fashion customers who want to splurge on a Rolex dripping in diamonds.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Mr. Montana pointed to a photo framed above the counter, showing him with Khloe Kardashian, his ex-girlfriend. “Khloe in Fordham,” he said, laughing. “Probably her first and last time.”

“Hey, you never know, man,” Mr. Aliav said.

Photos of Mr. Montana and Khloe Kardashian hang above Mr. Aliav’s jewelry counter.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Mr. Montana made his way through the displays of Kanye West’s Pablo tour merchandise and racks of Billionaire Boys Club hoodies. He grabbed a pair of topaz yellow track pants with red, yellow and green Rasta stripes on the side. “I need these in a large,” he said.

He turned around and pointed at a motorcycle jacket covered in patches hanging on the wall. “Look, Vansons are coming back,” he said.

After about 30 minutes, a sizable entourage had materialized, including his brother Zach; Frank Barlett, a childhood friend he met on the basketball court at 17; and a couple of fans eagerly waiting for selfies.

“You made my day,” said one young man, phone in hand.

After a few laps around the store, Mr. Montana made his way to the cashier with a pile of track pants and Timberland boots. “I’m not paying for anything, right,” Mr. Montana said, jokingly.

“I’m going to make you pay double,’ said Mr. Igbara.

Mr. Montana slid on a pair of sunglasses that Mr. Igbara handed him to try on. “Are those Céline?” said Ms. Gialouris with a sarcastic tone.

“They are Selin-a, her sister,” he said.

The rapper tried on sunglasses at Sammy’s Fashion while Sammy Igbara, the owner, watched.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

When they were done shopping, Mr. Montana’s crew got back into the car and headed toward Sushi Mambo, a festive Japanese and Caribbean fusion restaurant in nearby Inwood.

When they arrived, two bottles of Ciroc French Vanilla (Mr. Montana is a brand ambassador for the liquor brand) were chilling in a bucket of ice. Mr. Montana poured shots and handed them to his entourage.

“May God make you rich, not the people,” he said. “That’s what my dad always told me.”

A stop at Sushi Mambo in Inwood for sushi topped with plantains and fried calamari.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times
Mr. Montana seemed ready to start his night.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (Styles, Fashion and Weddings) and Instagram.

Source

NO COMMENTS