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See a Photographer’s Dreamy Visions of Couture

Dior couture from summer 2012 in L’arche de Noé XVIII.
Dior couture from summer 2012 in L’arche de Noé XVIII.

The scenes that photographer Cathleen Naundorf concocts to photograph couture are so atmospheric, at first glance, they appear to be images of holiday window displays. Paired with the hazy saturation of Polaroid film, the effect is altogether dreamlike — and given the surreal amount of labor goes into making a couture garment, entirely fitting.

Naundorf was born in the same small German town the legendary Vogue photographer Horst P. Horst, a contemporary of Irving Penn and Cecil Beaton. After she called Horst one day out of the blue to tell him so, he became her mentor, and they spoke everyday on the phone for years. While Naundorf has also done her share of photojournalism, her fashion photos show Horst’s influence most clearly, using light to make her images almost sculptural. You can see a selection for yourself next week at Edwynn Houk Gallery, which is also Naundorf’s first show in New York. Click through the slideshow for a preview of those Polaroids, featuring full-scale gowns by Dior and Elie Saab and custom hats by Philip Treacy.

“Cathleen Naundorf” is on display at the Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City from January 14 through February 27. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

La fille en plâtre VIII 

Summer 2007 Dior. Gelatin silver print, 2009.

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

L’arche de Noé XVIII 

Summer 2012 Dior. Color-print from original Polaroid, 2012. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

L’arche de Noé XXXV 

Winter 2015 Elie Saab. Color-print from original polaroid, 2014. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

L’arche de Noé XXXIII 

Summer 2014 Elie Saab. 2014. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

Kew Gardens

Hat by Philip Treacy and lingerie by Cadolle at Kew Gardens, London. Color-print from original Polaroid, 2009. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

My Little Darling 

Winter 2006 Dior at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris. Color-print from original Polaroid, 2009.

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

4pm in London

Hat by Philip Treacy and lingerie by Cadolle in Kensington, London. Color-print from original Polaroid, 2009. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

La fille en plâtre VIII 

Summer 2007 Dior in Les ateliers du style, Paris. Gelatin silver print, 2009.

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

La parisienne III 

Winter 2009 Dior at Naundorf’s studio on rue Manin, Paris. Gelatin silver print, 2010. 

Photo: Cathleen Naundorf

Valentino en rose 

Winter 2007 Valentino in cité jandelle, Paris. Gelatin silver print, 2007.

See a Photographer’s Dreamy Visions of Couture