TGIF! Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception of Cathleen Naundorf's exhibition here in New York at the Edwynn Houk Gallery. And wowzers! What an absolutely delightful evening filled with exquisite designer haute couture in fashion photography! Let me tell you more about the artist!
Born in the small German town, Weisenfels, in 1968, Cathleen Naundorf began working as a photojournalist in the early 90's and photographed various groups around the world including the Yanomami in Amazonia, the Mongols and Kazakhstanis in the Altai Mountains, and the shamans in Yakutia, Sibiria. Her friendship with photographer Horst P. Horst, quickly grew her to be inspired by fashion photography.
In 1997 she began photographing backstage at Paris fashion shows for Condé Nast, and in 2000 she began working with her trademark polaroid and large format cameras. Her Polaroid photography resonates with magical, enchanting dream-like fantasies, and Naundorf's distinctive technique is not only inspired by her mentor Horst, but the images are so atmospheric, they present a surrealist world rich with intrigue that suggest a romantic aesthetic of a forgotten age. Paired with instant film's hazy saturation and the actual amount of time and effort that goes into making a couture garment, makes her images extremely fitting and quite unique.
Photographing the intricate haute-couture designs of fashion houses such as Dior, Elie Saab, Philip Treacy, and Valentino, clearly and continually reference an esteem for the antique and handmade. Plus the ethereal effect from the way Naundorf manipulates the inherent textures and color variations enhance everything in her prints. Just pure elegance, style and quality.
From 2005 to 2011, she did the epic series Un rêve de mode for which the artist gained unprecedented access in the previously mentioned fashion houses. In 2012 Prestel published the series in the limited edition monograph, Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf.
In the past five years, Naundorf has worked privately with Mr. Valentino Garavani on several projects including An Italian Story and the photo-documentation of Mr. Garavani’s collaboration with the New York City Ballet. Her work is consistently featured on the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Condé Nast publications. She currently lives and works in London and Paris.