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Fashion photographer Mario Testino wins French honor

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Prolific fashion photographer Mario Testino received France’s highest civilian honor this week. The French ambassador to Peru presented Testino with the Légion d’Honneur. He presented it in Testino’s hometown of Lima on Tuesday. He received the award in honor of his philanthropic efforts and services to culture.

Testino’s work debuted in Vogue in 1983. Since, his work has been featured in nearly all the big-name fashion magazines including Vanity Fair, LOVE and various international editions of Vogue. Famously, he photographed Princess Diana of Wales for Vanity Fair in 1997. Since then, he has often photographed royalty. He shot Prince William and Kate Middleton after their engagement, and stood as the official photographer for Princess Charlotte’s christening.

Ultimately, though, Testino is a fashion photographer whose work has helped shaped several labels’ visual identity. In the mid-nineties, the team of Testino, stylist Carine Roitfeld and Tom Ford pushed Gucci to a revival. Conversely, it pushed Testino himself to produce some of his best work. He also created imagery for Burberry and Versace, among others.

Photography curator for the National Portrait Gallery in London, Terence Pepper, called Testino the “John Singer Sargent of our times.” By capturing intimate, candid moments, Testino exhibits the humanity of his portrait subjects. Suzy Menkes said of his work,

“Testino’s skill is first and foremost to catch the moment and to bring out the humanity in his subjects.”

In addition to his artistic work, Testino works with many philanthropic endeavors. He supports many charities including Save the Children and The Elton John Aids Foundation. In 2012, he opened Museo MATE, a non-profit museum dedicated to the promotion of the arts and culture in Peru. He earned the Légion d’Honneur for his philanthropy, as well as his contribution to culture through his photography. As reported by WWD, French ambassador to Peru, Fabrice Mauriés, said,

“France is happy to show its recognition today to a person who contributes to the development of young Peruvians as well as to the appreciation of the art and culture heritage of their nation.”

Testino received the Grand Cross Order of Merit, Peru’s highest civilian honor, in 2010 and the Order of the British Empire in 2013. After receiving the award, Testino took to Instagram to express his appreciation, saying,

“I feel so honoured to be recognised by France with the Légion d’Honneur! It was extra special to receive it at the French residences in Lima, Peru. Thank you.”

Check out some of his famous work above.

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