This past Monday, The Queen Sofía Spanish Institute on Park Avenue held a special opening reception for Mario Testino's ALTA MODA exhibit. Before the guests arrived her majesty Queen Sofia was on site to privately tour the exhibit with Mario Testino and Oscar De La Renta who serves as a chairman for the Institute. The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute will be the first American venue to present ALTA MODA, a series of photographic portraits by acclaimed photographer Mario Testino.
Known primarily for his work in fashion magazines, Testino makes a bold departure with this series and makes a ground braking statement of awareness, respect and appreciation for cultures of Latin America. "Alta Moda"—literally “high fashion” in Spanish and Italian—documents Peruvians in their vibrantly colored and ornately adorned traditional and festive dress from Cusco, one of the highest mountainous regions of Peru.
Over a five-year period Testino made several trips to Cusco City and after discovering an archive of costumes from the region he decided to undertake on this breathtaking project. In addition Testino was inspired by the history of Peruvian photography, and in particular by the work of Martín Chambi, one of the first indigenous Latin American photographers.
While Alta Moda appears to reference the tradition of ethnographic photography, Testino has, in fact, captured several stories within each photograph. “I usually try to capture the moment,” says Testino. “But with this series, I wanted to do something very different—not just with my own work, but also with the practice of photography. I tried to fit as much time and history into each frame as possible—from the traditional and festive clothing to the Chambi backdrops to the Peruvian people in them. Alta Moda is quite different from the portraits I am perhaps best known for.”
ALTA MODA by Mario Testino will be accompanied by a series of related public programs that will additionally serve to reinforce the Institute’s mission of promoting greater awareness and understanding of the culture of Spain in the United States through a steadfast dedication to advancing scholarship in the humanities and the arts.
The exhibit is open for viewing from November 20, 2013−March 29, 2014. The accompanying catalogue—lavishly illustrated with full color plates—features essays by Mario Testino and Hamish Bowles and will be sold exclusively at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute. For a schedule of events visit the Institute's website.