Cathleen Naundorf

Cathleen Naundorf began her career in haute couture and fashion after meeting Horst P Horst. She works actively with the collections of Chanel, Dior, Gaultier, Lacroix, Ellie Saab and Valentino working in large format Polaroid film. Her mise-en-scène are delicate narratives which give character to each ensemble.

Cathleen Naundorf is a Franco-German photographer. In the early 1990s she graduated from her studies in Munich and went on to become a photo assistant. She started her photographic journey travelling to Siberia, Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, and the Amazon headwaters in Brazil creating elaborate journals about the cultures she encountered, including regional fashion which led her to work almost exclusively in couture for the rest of her career.


Naundorf later trained with fashion photographer Horst P. Horst who soon became an influential mentor and friend. In 1997, she began taking backstage photographs at Paris Fashion Week for Condé Nast, and has worked on her ‘Haute Couture’ series since 2005. For this particular series she has been granted access to the archives of Dior, Chanel, Gaultier, Lacroix, Elie Saab, and Valentino. Naundorf has also worked closely with London milliner Philip Treacy throughout her career. 


Inspired by her mentor, Naundorf conjures eloquent mystical images, marrying the colours of instant film with playful light and shade. Her work, has been described as timeless, blending a harmonious overtone of fashion, art and photography. 


Using large-format cameras, such as a vintage Deardorff, or Polaroids, Naundorf’s images are often opulent, containing exotic props and fantastical set designs. She prints onto her negatives and then hand-presses them, giving the photographs a haunting effect. 


Naundorf’s work is held in a number of private collections and has been exhibited at galleries in Stockholm, New York, London and Paris. Her images are continuously published in fashion and lifestyle magazines, notably Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The book ‘Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf’ was published in 2012 in a limited edition by Prestel. Naundorf has worked privately with Mr Valentino Garavani on several projects, including An Italian Story and The New York City Ballet and has since won the American Photography Award.


The artist lives and works in Paris and London.