Mario Testino, Alta Moda

It’s always a treat to flip through a fashion editorial shot by photographic powerhouse Mario Testino and see the world through his artistic eyes.  A Testino portrait seems to look straight into it’s subject and bring out the secrets they’ve never told a single soul with an attention to detail and gesture that are unparalleled.  They set the mood, they inspire.


Pointing his lens at the costumes and people of his native Peru, a culmination of five years work, Testino’s latest exhibition Alta Moda sheds that same insight into a culture as rich and vibrant as the multi-colored outfits depicted in the photo series.  A passion project Testino started while sourcing outfits for a British Vogue piece, his portraits capture the bright and bold colors, textures and distinct personal histories from Cusco, one of the highest mountainous regions of Peru.  The elaborate traditional costumes compare to any of the major fashion house’s couturiers in their intricacy, craftsmanship and delicate detailing.


It’s always magic when high fashion and art blend into one in the same. But as Stanley Tucci’s character in The Devil Wear’s Prada poignantly pointed out, “what (the designers) created was greater than art because you live your life in it.” Which is what truly defines Testino’s photographs in Alta Moda.  Donning the most decadent of dress, you see the humanity and everyday life of the Peruvian people.  They dress to celebrate their home and culture.  Each portrait tells the story of it’s subject, while also sharing Testino’s personal history and pride for his homeland.


On show at New York City’s Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, Testino’s images perfectly blend art with anthropology, complementing the Institute’s mission to promote the culture of Spain and Spanish-speaking regions.  The exhibition is presented under the chairmanship of Oscar de la Renta, who spoke of the Spanish influences in the Latin American dress and vice versa, with similar silhouettes and color palettes complemented by gold jewelry.  De La Renta alongside Testino toured Queen Sofia herself through the exhibition on opening night, along with fashion and silver screen royalty alike.  With the regal seal of approval, this exhibition is certainly not one to be missed.

Mario Testino Alta Moda is on display November 20 through March 29, 2014, at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in NYC.

About the Author

Sarah Bertness is the Editorial Manager of social shopping platform, covering the arts, music, fashion and culture from Dallas in her spare time. She has a love for public art, all things vinyl, antiquing, wanderlust, and a good dose of color blocking and print clashing. You can follow her travels and musings on Instagram @sarahbertness.