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Photographer Testino: Models not too thin

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(CNN) -- Debating the merits of ultra-thin models is one of the hottest topics in fashion right now, but photographer Mario Testino does not believe the girls he photographs are causes for concern.

CNN's Revealed has been given rare insight into the fashion world while shooting a documentary about the renowned Peruvian snapper.

"We are in a business to sell clothes. Clothes look better on a thinner person, but I don't think that clothes look good on a skeleton, myself," Testino told CNN.

"I think most of the models we work with, they are okay. (They're) as thin as anyone of their age. I can tell the difference between an anorexic girl and a normal, thin girl."

Testino has shot campaigns for the world's biggest fashion houses -- his pictures have produced some of the defining images of an era and they have adorned the walls of art galleries.

"I like to believe that I'm not just a photographer," Testino says.

"I quite like the idea of commerce and art mixed together, in the sense that our job as fashion photographers -- whether you like it or not -- can be done very commercially or very artistically. Our job is to make people want to buy clothes. That's what we do."

It's a philosophy that has proved successful for Testino, making him in demand from the world's leading fashion houses and glossy magazines.

Testino has been charged with creating luxury fashion brand Versace's spring/summer 2007 campaign, which debuted in February's glossy magazines.

"At this moment Mario Testino, to me, is the only photographer with the sense of modernity, with the sense of creativity, combined with a knowledge of the market for fashion, which nobody else has," Versace Group Creative Director Donatella Versace told CNN.

Among the magazines the Versace advertisements appear in is American Vogue. February's cover features a photograph of actress Renee Zellweger, also taken by Testino.

"So many of the photographers -- believe it or not -- they may be wonderful photographers, but they don't have a sense of style and fashion, what's in, what's out, what's happening, the new goal, the dress of the moment, the way that Mario does," Vogue's Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour told CNN.

"Mario is one of very few photographers at (Vogue publisher) Conde Nast that we look on as a 'voice-of-the-magazine' photographer. He has such an extraordinary spirit, such a positive energy. The celebrities adore working with him. He loves fashion."

Testino has rarely allowed television cameras to capture him at work in the studio, but CNN has been given exclusive access to follow him while working on the Versace campaign.

As well as British supermodel Kate Moss, Estonian-born Carmen Kass and American supermodel Carolyn Murphy appear in the latest Versace campaign.

"To me, Mario is somebody who catches the moment. It is always alive. When you look at his book and the work he has done there is always life and and light and you feel like you are there," Kass told CNN.

"He is just a beautiful person with a lot of experience and knowledge and at the same time he is still very light and he has a great sense of humor. So he makes you feel very comfortable."

Murphy agrees: "Working with Mario is a treat. He really loves what he does and that makes you love your job at the same time. He makes you feel sexy," she says.

"The special thing about Mario and what he brings out in people is his love of life. He loves women, he is very stylish. So it is not about getting just the right picture, it is about setting the whole atmosphere and he is a lot of fun to work with."

For Testino, though, taking images is about creating a fantasy world.

"For fashion photographers, we make people dream," he says.

"We give people a lot of fantasy and maybe for that sometimes they would like to be a part of our world. It's a fake world really you know, that maybe doesn't quite exist in reality. Maybe it is how we would like it to exist."


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Mario Testino does not believe the weight of the girls he photographs, including Carmen Kass and Kate Moss, are causes for concern.

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