Whether it’s Paris, Milan, New York or London there is a vast difference between what the front row sees and what happens backstage. From walking on water to a tale of his first flame-fuelled shoot, we look back over the years with Mario…
MT: It’s always wonderful seeing the most influential faces from the fashion business on the front row. People like Grace Coddington and Anna Wintour are so familiar to the world now. I have been in this business for 35-years, so I follow them and it’s so amazing to chart their success through the years.
MT: There’s always a surprising element to the shows, in this case, I was surprised to see Manolo Blahnik at the Carolina Herrera show. I have known him for many years, and in a way, he gave me my first job by asking me to shoot a pair of his shoes. I had this idea of a girl being saved from a fire, and the first thing she saves are the shoes on her feet.
MT: Sometimes shows in Paris are in pretty unexpected places. I couldn’t believe it when Dior showed at the Palais Garnier theatre in Paris. The show was staged all over the Palais, and the models were going up and down the stairs. It was just so glamorous and you felt so privileged to be in there.
MT: It was funny to have Janet Jackson interviewing me for something. This shot was from an Alexander McQueen show, when I was just starting to become known. The catwalk was covered in water, so everybody was walking on water. It was like an answer to the question, 'how far can your imagination go?'
MT: In the early days, I didn't have invitations to the shows. My friends, who were assistants to the fashion editors, would get me in. I would stand right at the back, where I could never quite see the shoes of the models. This was frustrating, because the shoes are what make the outfit. Over the years, I slowly moved up and up and up, until I made it to the front row. It’s always a surprise to arrive and see my name.
MT: My aim, when I'm working, is to create a fun and exhilarating atmosphere for the models, so they end up feeling really comfortable. It’s so nice to see that freedom.
MT: Being behind the scenes is so different to being at the front of the shows. All the people who support the designer are working and waiting there before, during and after the show. It is amazing to see the emotion that they have backstage, the fear and the excitement.
MT: Fashion shows can be like dreams. They can really make you travel and see things that you could never imagine. The clothes are just part of the story. John Galliano, when he was at Dior, was an expert in creating dreams.
MT: I have been in the business for 35-years now and it's always good to look back. I remember working with Donatella Versace when her brother was alive. We did a shoot with Madonna, and then I started doing all the Haute Couture shows.
MT: I always loved seeing John Galliano at his shows. He would present himself in a different way every season. I never knew what I was going to see. Photographs © Mario Testino