It’s showtime in Barcelona: Inside an enormous ivory tent, Mango is hosting a special presentation of its spring collection, while outside, the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc is lit up in the same eye-popping shades of crimson and citrine that are now appearing on the runway. International fashion editors in six-inch heels nod approvingly as the models navigate a white curving staircase down to the catwalk.

The evening is a coming-out party of sorts for Mango, which is looking to distinguish itself from fast-fashion competitors like Zara and H&M. Of course, the best way to influence opinion is through the company you keep, and Mango has aligned itself with some stylish heavy hitters. ELLE talked to Mónica Cruz, who, since 2007, has modelled and designed a line for the brand with her sister, Penélope, and guest designer Adam Lippes, who created a limited-edition spring collection for Mango.  

Is it difficult working with your sister? “We respect each other, so if we need to say that something — an idea, a hemline — is wrong, we just say it. We also think the same way. When we’re dreaming up a collection, we come up with so many similar ideas.”

Tell us about your spring line. “We were inspired by the classic pin-up beauty illustrations from the ’50s. My favourite pieces are the dresses with corsets in very sexy, strong colours: deep wines and vivid greens.”

Have you always liked fashion? “Ever since I was a little girl! Mango was a natural choice for us. The designers give us so much freedom — we have eight-hour meetings! It’s magical to see the transformation from the moment we choose the fabrics to when we see the pieces in the store.”

How did you get involved with Mango?
“I was looking for the right brand to collaborate with. I came to Barcelona, met the Mango team and visited the fabric archives, and I realized that Mango has a point of view: It’s not selling the fastest trends for the cheapest price. Customers trust Mango — they feel confident walking in and getting something really beautiful. It felt like the right fit.”

What was your inspiration for this collection? “I wanted to create easy, chic, fun shapes that are casual but dressy at the same time.”

What were your biggest challenges?
“My biggest concern was ‘Gee, how do we do a $600 dress for $100?’ I wanted to make sure that I was being true to myself. Times are also hard — people aren’t buying as much, but if you can give them something unique, they will keep shopping.”