Mario Testino

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Testino grew up in Lima, the eldest son of a businessman. When he was young he wanted to be a priest. Testino recalls being unpopular at school because of his flamboyance. He was good at math and went on to study economics at Universidad del Pacífico, where his insistence on wearing pink flares and platform heels around the campus ensured that everyone knew his name. In 1976 he went to London to study photography. Living in an unconverted floor of a hospital, without much money, he funded himself by working as a waiter. He had his hair dyed pink which helped him get noticed as a photographer.
The eldest of eleven children born to an Italian father and an Irish mother, Testino attended the Universidad del Pacifico, the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru and the University of San Diego. In 1982, Testino moved permanently to London.

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Testino has shot fashion stories for Vogue, V, Gucci, and Vanity Fair. Celebrity subjects have most famously included Diana, Princess of Wales and her sons. Also more recently Prince William and Catherine Middleton on the occasion of their engagement. Other subjects have included many actresses such as Kim Basinger, Emma Watson, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, models such as Tyra Banks, Claudia Schiffer, Gisele Bündchen, Elizabeth Hurley, and Kate Moss, performers such as Janet Jackson, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Kristen Stewart, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga, and public figures like Baroness Thatcher. Living in London, he continues to photograph the British Royal Family as well as contributing to the image development of Burberry, Gucci, Zara, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana, Estée Lauder, Valentino and Versace. Testino is currently represented exclusively by Art Partner. He and fashion stylist Carine Roitfeld are credited for drawing significant attention to the house of Gucci through provocative ad campaigns in the mid-1990s, which, along with Tom Ford's designs, eventually led to the revival of Gucci as a major fashion house. In December 2010, Testino took the engagement photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

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Testino has become one of the world's most well known and celebrated fashion photographers. His work has been featured across the globe in magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and V and he has crafted and contributed to the imagery of leading fashion houses such as Burberry, Gucci, Versace, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, Estee Launder, Hugo Boss, Miu Miu, Shiseido and Michael Kors, among many others. As well as having published seven books of his work and edited one other dedicated to contemporary art and artists from his native Peru, Mario Testino has had many successful exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world.

In 2002, The National Portrait Gallery in London staged the landmark exhibition “Portraits” by Mario Testino that to date remains its most successful exhibit. Over the next four years the exhibition went on tour to Milan, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Tokyo and Mexico City.

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Testino has been lauded with a number of awards and recognitions for his achievements and charitable work, including a Doctor Emeritus from the University of the Arts, London, the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award, the Medalha Tiradentes from the city of Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and the Order of Merit from the city of Lima, Peru. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2011.

Testino has also received royal commissions, including The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Prince Harry, The Duchess of Cambridge, Diana Princess of Wales, The Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Prince Willem-Alexander and Maxima of the Netherlands, Prince Haakon Magnus and Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan.

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Testino has a phobia about getting his hands dirty.
In his role as a Save the Children ambassador he raised money to build a playground in a Moscow children’s hospital specialising in cancer because that was the disease his brother died of at the age of 10. In Lima, he opened a children’s clinic to help victims of the 2007 earthquake. Testino does not consider himself a saint, though he says, "But doing these charitable things has made me feel that I have got some of the priestly instinct back. I know people who have everything and all they do is complain and bicker. Give off negative energy. When you try and do something positive it helps others but also makes you feel better about yourself." He auctioned one of his prints of Diana for £100,000.

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In 2008 Testino donated a sitting at Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara Ball. It went for a staggering $1.8?million, (£1.26?million) bought by a Ukrainian businessman. The ball raised funds for AIDS victims, another charity which is close to his heart because he has had many friends die of AIDS.

Testino has been honored for his contributions to many charitable causes and organizations, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

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Updated12.02.2014 - 13:34