Meet Carolina Cordón-Bouzán and Gayle Yelon: The Founders Of Luxury Brand Montserrat New York

Montserrat New York, luxury jewelry and ready-to-wear brand founded by Carolina Cordón-Bouzán and Gayle Yelon, redefines effortless style. A brand that truly designs pieces you never take off, Montserrat was created to be your go-to, effortlessly chic essentials that can be worn anywhere from the Charles de Gaulle airport to a night out in Manhattan. Fusing the two cultures of its founders—New York and Barcelona—Montserrat evokes the unique spirit of each location, embodying the powerful Manhattan mindset with Mediterranean romance.

Haute Living sat down with both Cordón-Bouzán and Yelon to find out how they got started in the industry and where they plan to evolve Montserrat in the future.

Montserrat New YorkPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Montserrat New York

HAUTE LIVING: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in the industry?
CAROLINA CORDÓN-BOUSZÁN: I was reading Diane von Furstenberg’s book, The Woman I Wanted to Be, in my last year of college, which led me to question the path I thought I would be taking after graduation. I was studying Global Public Health and exploring jobs in that realm when I started asking myself, ‘Who will I be working with everyday? Where will I be working? And what will I be wearing?!’ To my doctor-dad’s dismay, I told him there was one industry I had never tried that I was passionate about, [which was] fashion. A few weeks after graduating college, I started interning at CFDA-incubator brand WHIT, where I learned everything from steaming to production costing and absolutely fell in love with every aspect of running a brand. The rest is history.

GAYLE YELON: When I worked for Chris Burch is where I really fell in love with branding—and, at the time, I had met Carolina, who was working on Montserrat New York in its early stages. Carolina was generous enough to invite me in to help with the brand and use it as a creative outlet, which ended up turning into both of our full-time jobs.

Montserrat New York
Carolina Cordón-Bouzán and Gayle Yelon

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Montserrat New York

HL: Was fashion always something you wanted to do?
CCB: I think I always wanted to work in fashion, but growing up, I didn’t believe that working in the industry could be a reality, which is funny because my grandparents on both sides worked in fashion. But as a first-generation American, I think that my immigrant parents really wanted me to achieve the “American dream” with a job as a lawyer, banker, or doctor, so they always pushed me into internships and jobs in those fields. And yet, I recently found sketches of clothes and jewelry I had made when I was ten years old – I had even marked their prices! So I think the dream of having my own brand was always in me; it just took a little courage for me to say it out loud and pursue it.

GY: I always loved fashion and the allure of it all, I wasn’t quite sure where I fit in there, but I am still fascinated by how fashion drives culture, especially in New York.

HL: Carolina, you’re heavily influenced by your family and Spain—can you explain how this inspired you when creating Montserrat New York?
CCB: In creating MONTSERRAT New York, I wanted to bring together my two worlds of Manhattan and Barcelona. The influence of my family and Spain can be found in the brand name itself, as New York is the city where I grew up running around my Spanish grandfather’s Madison Avenue jewelry atelier, and Montserrat was the name of my grandmother, who had a garment factory in Costa Brava. I like to say that the ethos of our brand is the intersection where Manhattan attitude meets Mediterranean romance – that restless energy of New York mixed with those carefree summer nights spent partying and falling in love on the beaches of Costa Brava. My designs are very much inspired by the confident and sensual women that stomp the streets of Manhattan and Barcelona alike, especially my mom, who was an immigrant that dressed in chic bright colors in a very black and white New York, and wore her accent like a badge of individuality. Every design I make is created for those on the go-between cities and beaches, with all styles made to transition effortlessly between the events that come with bustling city life and weekend escapes.

HL: Which pieces did you first launch with?
CCB: Our first pieces were our Jet Sets (customizable with charms) and the Safety Pin Earring. The earring completely sold out within the first weekend! A month after launching, the Safety Pin Earring landed us our first big collaboration, and our jewelry offering really began growing from there.

Montserrat New YorkPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Montserrat New York

HL: What trends are you look forward to for Spring 2022?
CCB: I am looking forward to seeing how the push and pull of post-Covid loungewear versus glam continues to play out. The runways showed a lot of glam rock mixed with elevated sporty looks, so I’m excited to see how those trends evolve.

GY: I am excited to lean even more into color this spring. [We’re] so into color this spring, so it will be exciting to see how our customer responds and plays into the powerful shades we’ve chosen. I’m also excited to see mini dresses and mini skirts make a major come back!

HL: How do you stay inspired as a brand owner and designer?
CCB: I am constantly looking to books, art, music, and history for inspiration. I love learning and researching, so once I land on the topic of inspiration for the upcoming collection, I love to deep dive into it and learn as much as I can in order to reflect its essence into the design and creativity of that collection.

GY: I am inspired by the smallest things; even if it’s a table cloth at a restaurant or an ad from the 60s, everything is relevant and can trigger an idea.

HL: Can you give a sneak peek into what you are currently working on?
CCB: I just finished working on our Spring/Summer 2022 Collection, which is inspired by Botticelli’s Venus and the mythology of Venus herself. We’re really pushing the envelope in our SS22 collection, with a lot more lab-grown diamond pieces and an expansion of our ready-to-wear, which we are very excited about! And now I’m starting to shift focus to designing our Autumn/Winter 2022 Collection – it has a really different type of theme for MONTSERRAT New York, so you’ll have to stay tuned to learn more! 

HL: Outside of fashion and running your company, how do you spend your time? 
CCB: When I’m not working, I’m with my friends and family catching up over meals and drinks—either at home or at my favorite neighborhood restaurant. My fiancée and I are also currently planning our wedding in Spain this summer, so that is taking up a lot of my time outside of work and has been so much fun to plan.

GY: I am usually with friends catching up over martinis or exercising! I recently ran the New York Marathon, which was major; now that training for that is over, it’s more of the martinis I am focusing on.

Montserrat New YorkPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Montserrat New York

HL: What lessons did you learn when you were first starting the brand? 
CCB: I would say one of the biggest lessons I have learned is staying true to yourself and really believing in yourself. It’s easier said than done, but as long as you remember that there is strength in your individuality and the fact that no one else thinks or creates like you, I believe you will flourish in whatever work you do.

GY: I think one thing we’re beginning to learn and are really trying to remember is to keep our heads down and focus on our work, not compare or worry about the success of others. Everyone is on their own path, and we must always go with our gut.