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Fashion Photographer Turns Lens to Peruvian Highlands

Image from Mario Testino's series Alta Moda on display at at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute. Mario Testino / Courtesy Queen Sofia Spanish Institute

Fashion photographer Mario Testino is best known for his celebrity portraits regularly featured on the cover of Vogue magazine. In his new series "Alta Moda," he visited the highlands of Peru, photographing locals in their traditional dress worn on festive occasions in the city of Cuzco. The title "Alta Moda" translates to “high fashion,” a play off of Cuzco’s high elevation of over 11,000 feet.

A native Peruvian, Testino was inspired to highlight the country’s history by visually referencing the work of fellow Peruvian photographer Martin Chambi. Chambi’s images from the early 20th century were groundbreaking in depicting indigenous Peruvians with the respect and lighting that was usually only used in portraits of the elite.

“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,” said Testino in the press release for "Alta Moda."

Testino’s vibrant images are currently on view at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute in New York City until March 29.

Image from Mario Testino's series Alta Moda on display at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute. Mario Testino / Queen Sofia Spanish Institute
Image from Mario Testino's series Alta Moda on display at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute. Mario Testino / Queen Sofia Spanish Institute