It was an illustrious and star-studded soirée. Fashion heavy-hitters of all walks and philanthropists of El Museo del Barrio congregated at Cipriani 42nd Street to celebrate famed fashion photographer Mario Testino by awarding him a lifetime artistic achievement award. Festooned in fantastic couture, 600 guests joined in raising $1,000,000 for what is New York’s leading Latino museum.
This year’s spectacular gala was chaired by Yaz and Valentín Hernández, Alex González, and Raúl Martínez, with an honorary committee of: Jessica Alba, Pedro Almodóvar, Kate Bosworth, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Francisco Costa, Hugh Dancy, Oscar de la Renta, Linda Evangelista, Victoria Fernandez, Anne Hathaway, Josh Hartnett, Carolina Herrera, Kate Hudson, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Kors, Sienna Miller, Candy Pratts Price, Narciso Rodriguez, Claudia Schiffer, Stella Tennant, and Donatella Versace.
Kate Winslet bestowed a glimmering Asprey of London sterling silver tray to Testino, as El Museo’s lifetime achievement prize. The exceptional award was engraved with the signatures of 35 of Testino’s closest colleagues, muses, and friends, including: Christopher Bailey, Hamish Bowles, Naomi Campbell, Graydon Carter, Lucinda L. Chambers, Grace Coddington, Francisco Costa, Oscar de la Renta, Victoria Fernandez, Tom Ford, Alex Gonzalez, Tonne Goodman, Yaz Hernandez, Carolina Herrera, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Kors, Andre Leon Talley, Blake Lively, Raul Martinez, Sienna Miller, Demi Moore, Julianne Moore, Sasha Pivovarova, Candy Pratts Price, Julia Roberts, Narciso Rodriguez, Carine Roitfeld, Claudia Schiffer, Alexandra Shulman, Charlize Theron, Donatella Versace, Natalia Vodianova, Kate Winslet, and Anna Wintour—many of whom were present.
Testino blissfully accepted the recognition for his prolific career of over thirty years: “To receive this award from El Museo del Barrio is very special, because it is an institution that supports and promotes the art and artists of Latin America. Being recognized by my own people is particularly meaningful to me. It’s like the prodigal son returning home and being told that what he has done is accepted and good. When I left Peru and my family wanted me to go into something more established, be it engineering, or an architect, or a doctor, and I told them that I would be a photographer, it was a shock—almost a letdown—as I had been such a good student at school. This evening makes me feel like it is official, that I made the right choice.”
One of the world’s most renowned and respected fashion photographers, Testino has championed editorials and photo shoots for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and V; as well as compelling ad campaigns for luxury/fashion powerhouses Burberry, Gucci, Versace, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, Estée Lauder, Miu Miu, Lancôme, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, Zara, and Valentino. Some of the world’s finest museums and galleries have hosted exhibits of his work and he has received numerous royal commissions. Testino is also recognized for his extensive charitable contributions and efforts around the world, foremost in South America.
“He is one of the most amazing people and knows how to make you feel comfortable… you can be you—you don’t have to fake,” Arlenis Sosa proclaimed. When asked what’s making her glow these days, the stunning Marchesa-clad model cheerfully chirped, “Just happiness, love, family, good work, life — Summer!”
“He is the godfather of my two kids!” purred fashion goddess, Carine Roitfeld, bedazzled in vintage Valentino. “I love him!” she professed, before reporting that she wasn’t jetting off to Venice for La Biennale, but staying in New York to work with Testino.
“It’s special because he’s Latin. He represents a special part of that community, especially being a member of that community. It proves that you can be successful no matter what you’re background is,” remarked Joan Smalls in a winning Prabal Gurung dress and Lanvin necklace.
Constantly a must-attend date on the New York social calendar, El Museo’s 2011 gala was no exception. Guests enjoyed an exquisite multi-course meal and the finest libations: The festivities began with cocktails sponsored by Macchu Pisco. For dinner, the menu boasted an appetizer of red beet, string bean, and goat cheese salad; an entrée of medallion of veal alla Veneziana; a dessert of dulce de leche and strawberries dipped in bittersweet chocolate; and wines Principi di Butera Insolia and Le Focaie Sangiovese. A commendable crowd hung around late to boogie to DJ Alexandra Richards tunes (daughter of Keith Richards) and let their hair down. Chairperson Valentín Hernández commented, “El Museo represents a great world culture and our gala reflects it. Our event draws together guests from all over the globe, as well as prominent New Yorkers. A fantastic party, it’s an evening of great style and a source of vast pride that I am thrilled to have shared with my co-chair, Alex Gonzalez.”
Previous Gala awardees include opera luminary Plácido Domingo, music star Gloria Estefan, In The Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa.