v' Calvln Kleln bares all to The Face
While the \‘istlttl landscape Rankin roams is glll urban jungle filled with the jarring architecture of checks. jowls. legs and teeth. his pictures brimming with grit and humour. l.a(‘hapelle enjoys a camp extrayagance and surreal excess similar to those iiuropean kings (queens?) of camp Pierre et (iiles. l.a(‘hape|le. how'eyer. substitutes the (iallic p;iii"s playful softness for harsh .\'ew Yorkian physicality.
'l‘estino on the other hand. is arguably the most broadly palatable and commercial of the three. lle combines elements of pop photography and classic portraiture but stitches them in with a slick fashion sensibility: sleek and Vibrant with a real sense of decadence.
Many of 'l‘estino’s contemporaries admit they \ iew- themsely‘es as photographers who also take fashion pictures - l.a(‘hapelle and Rankin included — but as Shulman puts it: "l‘estino is a fashion photographer no matter what he is photographing. What 'l‘estino turns his lens upon is by definition fashion. be it a place. a thing or a pet‘squ
\Vhat 'l'estino and this raft of contemporary iibetphotographers haye developed is an ability to blend the fantastic (the celebrity subject) with the fantastical (presented like y'ou‘ye neyer seen them before). liy'idence of this on show at the Testino exhibition is in a playful and \‘iyaeious Madonna taken for Versaee in NUS and in a shockingly sultry
16 THE LIST :\("
l.i/ llurley' (a woman only famous for being famous. after all l. 'l'estino‘s repeated \ isits kept her Hollywood share price at an unnaturally high premium. lle inyokes the doe-eyed innocence of Audrey Hepburn and infuses it with the elegance of (irace Kelly in his shots of (iwyneth l’altrow. harking back to an age w here llolly wood was untouchable and headspinningly wonderful.
.\Iost telling. howeyer. are his sessions with Diana. Princess of Wales for limily Fair in 1997. 'I‘bese pictures numbered among her final posed photo shoots and 'l'estino captured one of the world‘s most famous women at ease. laughing and free happy in an uncontriyed. unpi'etentious way that had rarely been seen in public before. and was neyer to be seen again.
.»\le.\'andra Shulman attributes 'l‘estino‘s ability to harness ‘a particular nouchalant sensual beauty" in his subjects as that X factor to his success. defining ‘the ultra :\-l.isl of our celebrity-eonsciotis age‘. embodying the spirit of the moment in w'homeyer he photographs. ln I’orlruily the scale of the pictures is such that these high-delinition fairytales haye even greater impact and resonance.
Mario Testino: Portraits is at the Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Thu 17 Apr—Sun 15 Jun.
ROBBIE WILLIAMS IN THE BUFF SNAPPED BY TESTINO IS ANOTHER THING
Testino's Diana, Vanity Fair 1997 and Kate Moss, National Portrait Gallery 2001; magazine cover by David LaChapelle (left) and three by Rankin