Mario Testino

Mario Testino is a British photographer of Peruvian origin, one of the most influential in fashion photography, the founder of the genre "luxury realism". He is the winner of numerous awards and the author of the Pirelli calendar for 2001. Mario is also an ambassador of the charity Save the Children and the founder of the Foundation for the Promotion and Support of Peruvian Art M.A.T.E.

The most famous works are portraits of members of the royal family of Great Britain, as well as shootings with famous singers, designers and models, including Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Kate Moss, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana and many, many others.

"I want to believe that I'm not just a photographer. I like the idea that art and commerce can coexist. After all, the work of a commercial photographer - whether you like it or not - can be good both from the commercial and artistic side" - Mario Testino

Mario was born in 1954 in Lima, Peru, in a large family with Italian, Spanish and Irish roots. He studied at an American Catholic school, knew English well and dreamed of becoming a priest since childhood. His father worked for an oil company and often took his son on business trips to the United States as an interpreter. On one of these trips to New York, Mario became interested in fashion.

In 1976, Mario Testino moved to London and got a job as an assistant to the theatrical photographer Jon Vickers. Later, he rented a room in an abandoned hospital near Trafalgar Square and began offering aspiring models a portfolio for 25 pounds. Due to lack of money, Testino worked part-time as a waiter in a restaurant. To buy professional photographic equipment, he even took a loan from a bank.
At the beginning of his career, Mario Testino tried to imitate English photographers. According to Testino himself, he managed to find his own style only after meeting Carine Roitfeld in 1986.
By the mid-1990s, Mario Testino was already collaborating with leading publications: various versions of Vogue, Elle, The Face, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Allure, etc. It was Testino who revealed to the world Gisele Bündchen, who became the richest supermodel in the world.

In 1995, the Versace fashion house held an advertising photo shoot with Madonna. The campaign was started by Richard Avedon. The relationship between the model and Richard did not work out, and Madonna suggested Gianni Versace to replace him with Mario Testino. After the fashion designer saw the photos, he concluded: "You have the gift of photographing clothes, you know how to present them in the best light, and this is a rare talent." Madonna liked the work so much that one of the shots made by Testino she put on the cover of her album "Something to Remember".
In 1996, Tom Ford commissioned Testino to prepare a campaign for Gucci. The photographer filled the shots with sexual overtones, and his advertising brought the fashion house a profit of 330 million dollars.
In 1997, on behalf of Vanity Fair magazine, Mario Testino captured Princess Diana. To make Diana relax, Testino talked to her for a long time: he talked about himself, showed how women and men models walk on the catwalk, and then even asked her to dance. Mario was keeping contact with the Princess all the time and shooting elegant and natural moments. This approach surprised and conquered her. That photo shoot became especially famous five months later - after the death of the princess..
Since then, he has been one of the highest paid photographers in the world. In December 2010, Mario Testino acted as a photographer for the engaged Prince William and the future Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

"When I take photos, I actually feel in love with the model. Not only her appearance is important to me, but also her taste, ideas, humor – everything that defines her as a person."

In 1997 the first solo exhibition of Mario Testino's works was held at the Bunkamura Gallery in Tokyo. In 2002, he held an exhibition of his works at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In 2010 the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid hosted his exhibition "All or Nothing."
In 2013, Mario Testino's exhibition titled "Alta Moda" opened at the Queen Sofia Institute of Spain in New York. The exhibition featured photos of Peruvians in traditional costumes.

"This project is a tribute to the traditional Peruvian costumes, their embroidery, flowers, fabrics that are still worn in the Andes. I wanted to express my admiration for the richness of the national dress, which the Peruvians treat with the great devotion. I tried to convey as much time and history as possible in each frame - from traditional and festive clothes to the Peruvians themselves."
Text Anna Laza
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