BRAVURA INSPIRATION

Mario Testino’s renowned Alta Moda exhibit comes to the Dallas Contemporary and our artfully inclined Molly Bayme learns more about the master photographer eyes’ Latin twist.

Photograph courtesy of the Dallas Contemporary

Wait no longer. Photography at its most robust is coming to the Dallas Contemporary, featuring the master photographer’s Mario Testino’s Alta Moda exhibition. Yearning for novel fashion crazes? Hanker no more. Alta Moda translates to high fashion in Spanish, and this show holds a strong truth to its name. Testino delivers the high fashion he promises through this exhibition, as he has done for years in his illustrious career.

From 2007-2012, Testino made numerous stays in Cusco, Peru and in doing so, attained bravura inspiration for the exhibition. When visiting Cusco, Testino marveled at the region’s apparel. He began to document, as he says, “the Peruvian people wearing the traditional and festive dress associated with the mountainous region of Cusco.” So, with influence from the latter, Testino was also profoundly encouraged to create Alta Moda due to the stunning success of one of the premier early to mid-twentieth century photographers of the native Latin Americans, Martin Chambi. To further incorporate Chambi’s spectacular artistic touch in Alta Moda, Testino collaborated with Chambi’s grandchildren and together they recreated some of Chambi’s dazzling backdrops. The incorporation of those, in combination with the colors and textures of the indigenous Peruvian clothing, made for a captivating and well-received combination.

Testino’s Alta Moda further classifies Testino as an artistic dynamo. Through this display, Testino effectively tells numerous stories, while simultaneously capturing the “tradition of ethnographic photography.” As Testino shares, “I usually try to capture the moment, 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.”

Testino has triumphed at expanding his repertoire and the state is better for it while his work is here. Alta Moda displays until December 22 and for more information about this must-see exhibition, visit Dallascontemporary.org