Mario Testino was born in 1954 in Lima, Peru.
He came to London in 1976, took a flat in an abandoned hospital near Trafalgar Square, and began selling portfolios (for £25, including hair and make-up), to wannabe models. Mario Testino makes anyone he photographs look the best they ever will. That's part of his magic. The rest is in making the taking of the photo as much fun as possible, using his trademark Peruvian encouragement.
His style has been described as "luxury realism", but he resists analysing it too much. When he photographs clothes they look so good they actually sell.
Testino comes from a very 'proper' family in Peru - his sister is a knitwear designer - and he returns there as often as he's able to, though he's almost permanently mid-air, or hard at work on a shoot. Mario Testino is also credited with bringing to an end the reign of the ubermodel. Rather than pay the fees demanded by Linda, Naomi et al, in the early Nineties Testino championed a new breed of model - including Kate Moss ("my favourite"), and Stella Tennant.
He has also become a semi-royal photographer, chosen by the Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry.
The man who once said it was his "greatest pleasure in life" to make people laugh published his first book of photography, a raunchy and vibrant collection of images entitled Any Objections, in 1999. In 2003, he published Portraits to accompany his exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery. Later, in 2005, his exhibition of Diana photos, Diana: Princess of Wales, opened at Kensington Palace.
August 2010, sees the publication of Mario Testino's book 'Kate Moss by Mario Testino' (published by Taschen), Mario's personal choice of his photographs of Kate Moss - the most intimate photos of today's biggest international fashion icon by the world's favourite photographer (limited to 1,500 copies, each numbered and signed by the artist). Mario Testino is recognised as the ultimate fashion photographer of his generation but his pictures of Kate Moss transcend fashion. The consequence of two decades of extraordinary friendship, and phenomenal glamour, this iconic collaboration is an intimate insight into the lives and minds of two of the world’s definitive style leaders.
This book catalogues the journey of one of fashion’s most creative collaborations, from early days backstage at the shows, to behind-the-scenes glimpses of the ground-breaking editorials they continue to produce for the world’s most respected magazines. Many photographs have been chosen from Testino’s private archive and are published here for the first time.
This book is Mario’s personal homage to his greatest muse: a young girl that captured his heart and eye with her beauty, humour and spirit, and whose image in his photographs has captured imaginations the world over. Contents include: Foreword by Mario Testino, Exclusive essay by Kate Moss, Over 100 images in black-and-white and colour, including many unseen private photographs (hardcover, presented in an acrylic box).