Lima’s seaside Barranco District is known for its bohemian culture and artsy population, so it’s fitting that Mario Testino, influential fashion photographer and Lima native, decided to open his first non-profit institution, Mate Museo Mario Testino, here in 2012.
Visitors will likely recognize some of the famous faces in Testino’s permanent collection that adorn the striking 19th-century mansion’s walls. Currently in its second edition, the collection features many of the greatest names in music, film and fashion, from The Rolling Stones and Elton John to Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Angelina Jolie. And there’s royalty of the British variety present, too. A separate room houses Testino’s renowned photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales for Vanity Fair magazine — the last official portraits taken before her fatal car crash in 1997.
But perhaps most in line with Testino’s mission that Mate support Peruvian heritage and culture are his ongoing and captivating Alta Moda series, which depicts Cusco locals in vibrant traditional attire. There’s also a temporary exhibition space that showcases contemporary work by other Peruvian artists (alongside the work of international artists).
As I slowly worked my way through Mate, the profound chemistry between photographer and subject jumped out at me again and again — one of many testaments to Testino’s vast talent.