By Renata Certo-Ware
Have plans this weekend? Uh, yeah, you do. You're going to see In Your Face, Mario Testino's first US exhibit, at the MFA here in Boston. As if you need more reason than that, see what these famous faces told Scorpion Disco exclusively (Yes, really!) about their favorite photographers:
Never one to shy away from the camera, Alessandra was the first supermodel to bound onto the red carpet for the opening night reception. Wearing a black Versace dress with an up-to-there slit that put Jolie to shame, she gushed about the blatently Brazilian-loving photographer, a long-time friend of the Angel’s.
“It’s great to be here and it’s the first time I get to see one of his exhibitions. I’ve been working with him since I started my career, so I’m a big fan of his pictures. They are fabulous and classic. As a model, you really want to work with him at least once.”
An industry veteran, Alessandra has been snapped by just about everybody, but working with Mario is a unique experience. His effervescent personality is what sets him apart, and his uncanny ability to connect with his subjects is what won her over. “He has a great relationship with his models. I’ve known him a long time – I’m from Brazil and he’s from Peru, but he speaks Portuguese and he loves Brazil. So he really embraced the whole Brazilian culture and he makes everyone feel his love of life. Just to be a part of his history, it’s an honor.
Photographs she is most looking forward to are the portraits of the Brits and shots of her paesanos. “I’m really excited to see the Royal Portraits - All his photos of Princess Diana are my favorites and he took a lot of pictures of Brazilian girls- Gisele, all my friends and colleagues. I love all of that.
Stunning in a black Pucci dress and Manolo Blahnik heels, the long and lean 19 year old, fresh from a shoot with the photographer earlier that afternoon, hit the red carpet to celebrate Testino. One of the few corn-fed American supermodels he’s immortalized in the exhibit, Kloss returns the favor by travelling far and wide to support Mario. Why? Simply put, “He’s great! Everybody loves Mario!”
“I’ve gotten on planes to Peru for his exhibits, so I was happy to come to Boston – it was a shorter trip than it was to Peru, but he’s a pleasure to be around and to work with and I’m excited to be here for the celebration of his incredible work.” Kloss modestly admits that being in front of Testino’s lens has been a major force in propelling her career. She attributes part of her seemingly-overnight success to working with the sensational photographer.“Not only the photos Mario and I have done together, but just his support and his friendship.”
When asked how she felt about being in the exhibit, she immediately became giddy, although she didn’t seem to get the memo that she was in the exhibit. “I’m excited to see all the work!! I don’t think I’m hanging on any walls, but maybe? I haven’t spoken to him about it! If I see myself, I don’t know how I’ll react.” Kloss was, in fact, hanging on the wall - an image of the supermodel, posing alongside Bao Bao Wan and Shaolin Monks in American Vogue was blown up and featured in the exhibit.
So what exactly makes Mario so special? “His energy, his spirit. He’s one of those people that have the ability to make others laugh and smile, and he brings the energy out of people. I think that’s why he’s able to take such beautiful photographs of anybody. That’s his secret to making all of his women look beautiful - He makes women feel beautiful.”
Mario likened his first Gisele encounter to a light being flipped on. He first spotted her at a casting, and made it his personal mission to get the “va-va-voom” model, who he called simply “flawless”, her first big gigs. At a time when models had no curves, Testino knew that the effervescent and sexy Brazilian had “it”, and he’s been photographing her ever since. Appearing in no less than six photos, she’s the star of more of his photographs in the exhibit than anyone else, Brazilian or not. Take that, Moss!
Not surprisingly, the admiration and appreciation is mutual. The then-pregnant supermodel turned out to show her support wearing a black Halston cocktail dress that she claims is the only dress that fits her. “I have known Mario since I was 16 years old. He’s a huge part of my life. He’s an old friend, so I’m here to support him because he was one of the first big photographers that I’ve ever worked with in my career.”
Working with Mario is rewarding for any model, and Gisele is no exception. “We kind of understand each other! Everyone just comes out a little more sexual in his photos.”
Wearing a belly-baring two-piece Azzedine Alaïa outfit in (you guessed it) black, relative newcomer Joan Smalls shared what it’s like being photographed by Mario.
“He really brings out your native culture. I’m Puerto Rican, so we’re both Latin, and whenever I shoot with him we speak Spanish. He has this ability to just switch languages – it’s incredible! You can be in a group photo and he speaks a different language to each girl. He makes everyone feel very comfortable within the group and it makes you just outshine.”
Mario shot Smalls for her very first American Vogue, which was a highlight in Joan’s career and a huge milestone. “Being shot in American Vogue is really a big deal, it’s a big stamp in your career, and being shot by him, a fellow Latin, is so inspiring. It really makes you look forward to your career.”
In an flighty, overly saturated industry, Mario has made a name and a place for himself thanks to his authentic interest in what he does and his borderline psychic ability to connect with his subjects, most of which are women. “He’s a legend. He’s so iconic, but he remains genuine and he truly loves what he does as his career. Ultimately, he loves women and that’s something that you can see throughout his work. He just celebrates and empowers women – beautiful, strong women. And that should always be admired.”
In her Alexandre Vauthier dress and Zanotti shoes, French wunderkind Constance Jablonski got the memo to wear black for the evening. “We girls like black, it’s very chic.” Never a slave to fashion, her strappy Giuseppe Zanotti didn’t keep her from being the life of the party. “Comfort level is good. Tonight, it is good, so I can dance, I can go very late.” she murmured in a man-melting French accent.
The model, who at 21 has already been shot by Mario several times, sees his work as true art. “Being photographed by Mario is amazing. It’s easy - Mario is a legend, and he knows how to make people comfortable, he knows how to make people insanely gorgeous. He speaks French and I’m French so we have that connection. He knows what he wants, he makes you feel confident, he’s so nice and I love what he does. He always makes sure we look sexy and beautiful and it’s the kind of picture you want to frame and hang in your living room.”
Regarding the fashion scene in Boston, which is often wrongfully perceived as the long suffering red-headed step-child in the shadow of not-too-distant neighbor New York City, Wintour remained diplomatic. “To be honest I’m not here enough often enough to have an opinion but my mother was from Boston, and my grandfather used to teach at Harvard, so I obviously have a great affection for it and lots of fond memories. I used to come here as a child, but I don’t remember the fashion from back then.”
Wintour did weigh in on longtime friend and Conde Nast colleague, who took her first born son’s passport photo when he was just days old. Unlike her alleged Devil Wear’s Prada alter ego, Wintour was all smiles in support of Testino. “He’s a great photographer, and it’s wonderful to see someone that’s worked so hard have so much success. I think what’s remarkable about Mario is that he just loves life.”
Collaborating on editorials is a breeze for the two pals. “I’ve known Mario for many, many years. We’ve gotten to know each other so well, we’re quite happy agreeing and disagreeing and the results are really amazing. He has amazing range.”
Hamish Bowles, the famously bespectacled fellow Vogue Editor, chimed in: “I think Mario has such an incredible personal glamour and a sense of joie de vivre, and he really brings fashion to life in his photos. He’s able to catch these extraordinary moments.”
These are all exclusive, copyrighted photos and interviews, please make sure images and quotes are credited to Renata Certo-Ware / ScorpionDisco.com and linked.
originally published by Renata Certo-Ware on Feb 1, 2013 at scorpiondisco.com