The Carrera y Carrera Boutique in Atlantis The Palm
Manuel Carrera, co-founder of the world-renowned Spanish fashion firm, Carrera y Carrera, has revolutionised the Spanish jewellery trade, creating classic ornaments that display innovative style, each with a personality of its own. We meet Manuel Carrera to discuss his views on the brand’s leadership position in the market
Soon after sculptor-jeweller Manuel Carrera opened for business in 1885 in Madrid, Spain, his charming sculptures that captured the beauty of life in exquisite miniatures and his beautiful period jewellery pieces found favour with the elite and even with the Spanish Royalty. For almost 60 years Carrera continued creating innovative designs that became classics and are still considered heirlooms in the hands of the fortunate few who posses them.
However, the prosperity of the firm could not withstand World War II and like many vibrant businesses, faded into oblivion.
A third generation Carrera, the namesake of the original founder, currently heads the firm. We meet Manuel Carrera in Dubai’s luxury hotel, Atlantis The Palm. He comes out as a deeply likeable person, whose placid appearance is tempered by a playfully restless look in his eyes.
Manuel says, “Though my father owned companies in the food sector, I developed a passion for jewellery at an early age, probably because of our family heritage in the jewellery line. From when I was just fourteen, I worked with jewellers and underwent advanced professional training in the Madrid Jewellery Union College. Meanwhile, after the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War and the calamities of World War II the jewellery trade was in a state of chaos. By the time I was twenty-five I was ready to venture out to create new concepts of my own.”
Thus it was that in 1970 two younger-generation Carrera cousins, Manuel and Juan José, decided to breathe new life into the family’s jewellery business and founded Carrera y Carrera in Madrid. He recalls, “We worked on new styles with mythological and symbolic flavours, playing with animal and human forms, all crafted in gold, diamonds and precious stones. The enthusiasm, expertise and exclusivity of the master goldsmiths’ craft are palpable in each of our jewellery pieces.”
After the firm achieved commercial success in the domestic market, they launched their international foray. “My brother, José Carrera, travelled to the United States with a suitcase full of our wares, without knowing what to expect from that market. Despite the predominant attitude of wariness toward anything Spanish, we obtained major clients, including Cellini at the Waldorf Astoria and Neiman Marcus.”
He continues in the same vein, “Now, with our global presence, we are ranked among the world’s 30 most prestigious jewellers. We have over 300 points of sales worldwide and our own boutiques in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Dubai, apart from Barcelona and Madrid.”
Like his illustrious forbear, Manuel Carrera is a jeweller and an artist, a master of techniques, a tireless worker, a visionary who applies Castilian sobriety and brilliance to transform jewellery into art. Carrera y Carrera continues to confound conventional concepts of creative design of jewellery, with the Spanish roots providing inspiration. “We design fluidity and dynamics into jewellery, creating pieces that display innovative style, each with a personality of its own, combining a matte-shine effect on gold, sculptural volumes and craftsmanship, inspired by arts, romantic images, mythological plots, animal or floral themes, with every tiny nuance conveying vividly ardent emotions and feelings.”
Manuel reminds us, “We also offer watches studded with diamonds and precious stones. We have recently launched the Avalon watch with mink straps in four colours: white, green, purple and pink. We even design for men – I am wearing the first Carrera y Carrera men’s watch.”
The brand continues to create alluring and bewitching jewellery – and now luxury watches – that celebrate Iberian style, imagination and ardour for beauty, with what the Spanish call ‘pasión’ as you can see in every one of Carrera y Carrera’s classic pieces.