The prolific photographer credits his own obsession with the Brazilian supermodel for propelling her to stardom because no one else thought the curvy beauty was right for the fashion industry.
Mario said: ''Nobody liked her, nobody wanted her. I had to fight to get her into my stories because nobody thought she was right - too this, too that, the nose, the breasts, the waist. But I believe in being obsessed, in getting obsessed.''
The Peruvian star - who has worked with the likes of the late Princess Diana and Kate Moss - also revealed he chose to settle in a more liberal Britain in 1977, aged 22, after being ostracised in his native South America for his flamboyant style and tastes.
He told The Observer: ''They screamed at me in the street: 'Faggot!' All my allowance went on taxi fares. I couldn't take public transport the way I dressed.
''South America was not really that open - you had to fit in, and I didn't fit in. I was different - my tastes, my point of view - were a bit weird, and I found in Britain a sense of calm, that I could just be.
''England is a very individual country where people have a personal style; they don't all follow a trend. The subtlety and wit of England is incredible, and they are very creative.''