Alta Moda

In a departure from Mario Testino’s celebrated fashion work, the touring exhibition "Alta Moda", which first opened at MATE – Museo Mario Testino in Lima in 2013, is the result of a five-year project that investigates both Peruvian traditions and the history of photography.

The exhibition showcases Testino’s portraits of Peruvians local to the mountainous region of Cusco, wearing festive attire. Peru’s traditional costumes appear to be as personal, handmade, exquisitely embroidered, conceived and dyed (and as rich in imagination) as the creations of the finest Haute Couture ateliers. “The vibrancy of the clothes expresses the intensity of spirit of the people who wear them,” Testino said. “I hope my images show how these traditions still exist in the present, at least for now.

The Exhibition

Testino frequently visited Cusco between 2007-2012 after discovering an archive of costumes that had been conserved at Filigranas Peruanas, one of Cusco’s largest dance associations. The photographs in "Alta Moda" draw inspiration from the work of Martin Chambi, one of the first indigenous Latin American photographers. Testino worked closely with the Archivo Fotógrafico Martín Chambi in Cusco to incorporate archival backdrops into his own work.

“So much Peruvian history lives on in these clothes. I have become aware on my travels that when a country loses the connection between its history and its traditional dress, something truly precious is lost. Something we can easily take for granted.” – Mario Testino

Making of: the Alta Moda Exhibition

Mario Testino, "Alta Moda", MATE - Museo Mario Testino, Lima 2013.

  • 2014 – Dallas Contemporary, Dallas
  • 2013 – Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, New York
  • 2013 – MATE – Museo Mario Testino, Lima

Selected Works

Traditional women’s costume, rural community of Chahuaytire, district of Pisac, province of Calca, Cusco, Peru, 2007

Caporal (dance leader) of the Auqa chileno dance and his lady, province of Paucartambo, Cusco, Peru, 2012

Traditional women’s costume, district of Tinta, province of Canchis, Cusco, Peru, 2007

Traditional women’s costume, province of Espinar, Cusco, Peru, 2007

Qhapaq qolla dance costume, district and province of Paucartambo, Cusco, Peru, 2010

Female character China saqra (devil, in Quechua) dance, province of Paucartambo, Cusco, Peru, 2010

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