One of fashion's best-known photographers, Mario Testino was born in 1954 in Lima, Peru. He arrived in London in 1976, taking a flat in an abandoned hospital near Trafalgar Square. He began his career selling portfolios for £25 including hair and makeup, to aspiring models, eventually becoming one of the industry's more sought-after photographers. Along with his editorial work, which was regularly featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair, the photographer was often called upon to shoot advertising campaigns for many of fashion’s most important brands including Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. In 2017 Testino’s day rate was believed to exceed $250,000.
In January 2018 Testino, along with photographer Bruce Weber , was accused of sexual exploitation in an investigation by The New York Times. Thirteen male assistants and models accused the photographer of a pattern of coercive sexual behaviour dating back to the 1990s. Representatives of the photographer objected to the allegations. The law firm that represents Testino “challenged the characters and credibility” of the people who made complaints and said former employees were shocked. Following the event, a series of luxury brands such as Burberry, Michale Kors and Stuart Weitzman as well as prominent fashion publications including the Condé Nast titles Vogue and Vanity Fair, parted ways with the photographer.
In 2002, The National Portrait Gallery in London held a hugely popular exhibition of Testino's work, entitled "Portraits by Mario Testino" and displaying portraits by the prolific photographer of famous subjects ranging from Kate Moss to Mick Jagger. The exhibition travelled to Milan, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Mexico City and Lima.
In 2010, Testino was invited by the renowned Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid to exhibit his work, one of the few living artists to have done so. In 2012 he was invited by the prestigious Museum of Fine Art in Boston, USA, to exhibit in a new show which opened in October 2012; his first museum show in the United States of America. His works were also exhibited in Berlin, Boston, Paris, Amsterdam and Shanghai, among other international museums.
As a portrait photographer he has captured some of the world’s most captivating individuals, often at intimate stages of their lives. For example, it was Testino who shot Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement photo. The photographer has also shot Diana, Princess of Wales, and was asked by Kate Moss to photograph her wedding.
Testino has published 12 books of his photography, including "MaRio de Janeiro Testino," a tribute to the city and its people that have inspired him so much. His most recent books are "Private View" and "In Your Face," to accompany the exhibitions of the same name.
2012 saw the opening of MATE, Asociación Mario Testino, a cultural institution in his home of Lima, Peru, which carries his name with a mission to promote culture to both local and international audiences through artistic programmes. In 2007, he established his own creative agency, Mariotestino+, with locations both in London and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in order to channel his 30 years of success and experience in the business of developing brand names in the luxury market. By 2018, Testino shuttered his New York office in light of the recent allegations.
In 2010, Testino received the Grand Cross Order of Merit in Peru, later joining the country's World Monuments fund in 2014. That same year, Testino also received an honorary OBE award for his photography merit. Testino's charitable endeavours have included work for the non-profit, Save the Children, amfAR, The Elton John Aids Foundation and the CLIC Sargent for children with cancer.