This November Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, under the chairmanship of Oscar de la Renta, 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. Alta Moda—literally “high fashion” in Spanish—documents Peruvians in their vibrantly colored and ornately adorned traditional and festive dress from Cusco, one of the highest mountainous regions of Peru.
To create Alta Moda, Testino made several trips to Cusco city over a five-year period after discovering an archive of costumes from the region. He was equally inspired by the history of Peruvian photography, and in particular by the work of Martin Chambi, one of the first indigenous Latin American photographers. Testino worked closely with Chambi’s grandchildren and used recreated backdrops from the archive of the late Peruvian photographer.
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.”
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.
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 and the Spanish-speaking world in the United States through a steadfast dedication to advancing scholarship in the humanities and the arts. Please check the website www.qssi.org for a schedule of events.
This exhibition is partially supported by PromPeru.