There’s no doubt that Anna Wintour and Mario Testino have a close working relationship–a fact that was underscored last night, at the opening of Testino’s first US exhibition, “In Your Face,” held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Given the number of shots in the exhibition that come from Vogue editorials–and the number of Vogue covers Testino consistently shoots every year–it’s obvious there’s something between Anna and Mario that makes for great photos.
So, when I saw Anna (looking fabulous in Prada S/S 2013, by the way) chatting with Vogue European editor-at-large Hamish Bowles at last night’s cocktail reception (more on that later) I knew I had to ask them what it is about Mario that makes him one of Vogue‘s go-to photographers.
Fashionista: At the press event earlier, Mario called himself a “Vogue photographer.” What, in your opinion, qualifies him as such?
Hamish: It sounds like a self-evident truth that fashion photographers would be excited by and interested in fashion, but actually they’re the exception to the rule. Mario has always been so engaged by style and beauty and fashion, and he really understands all those components that are so essential to Vogue. He celebrates them in a very dynamic and exciting way. I think primarily it’s his real embrace of fashion and style and beauty, and his understanding of changing trends and his ability to respond to those.
Mario said that you [Anna] had to lure him away from Harper’s Bazaar to get him to come to Vogue. What was it about Mario’s work that made you want him at Vogue?
Anna: We both knew Mario for a long time before he was working with other magazines. It was just a great admiration for his work and realizing that he would be a great asset to Vogue.
What is it about Mario that keeps you using him so frequently for those high profile covers like the Lady Gaga cover or the Sienna Miller cover?
Hamish: I think Mario’s kind of dedicated his life to surrounding himself with beauty in so many forms, and I think that one of his great skills as a photographer is making people look as beautiful and extraordinary as they possibly could. I think that for celebrities and people that can sometimes be insecure about the way they present themselves, Mario’s hands are the most reassuring to be in, because they know that they’re safe, they know that they will look as beautiful and extraordinary as they possibly can, and so he’s able to capture candid moments and they know that even if they let their guard down, they’re going to look extraordinary.
Mario just walked you through the exhibit. What were your thoughts?
Anna: Well we’d both seen it as a work in progress, so it was wonderful to see it in such a brilliant installation. We’ve been looking at a marquette with Mario for some time. It’s great–I just love the looseness of the installation, the accessibility of it. It’s an unpretentious way to show great work, which I think is so representative of the man. He’s not a pretentious person, his work is for everybody.
What do you think about the exhibit being in Boston rather than New York or LA? Is it a good fit, in your mind?
Anna: Why not? It reaches another audience, everybody is so aware of Mario’s work in the great capitals of the world, so I think to come to a cultural and intellectual city like Boston makes so much sense.
Mario Testino’s first US exhibition, “In Your Face” and “British Royal Portraits” open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on October 21.