Cathleen Naundorf (b. 1968) is a French German photographer, living and working in Paris.
In the late 1980s, she graduated from photography studies in Munich, and started to work as a photo assistant in New York, Singapore and Paris. In 1993 Naundorf began travelling to such destinations as Mongolia, Siberia, Gobi Desert and the Amazonas headwaters in Brazil. Naundorf’s fascination with ethnic groups took her to work with Indiain tribes such as the Yanomami in Amazonia, with the Mongols and Kazakhstanis in the Altai Mountains and with the Shamans in Yakutia, Sibiria. Naundorf also holds a love for Tibet, explained by her time travelling with the Dalai Lama. The results of these insightful pictures have been included in eight publications of renowned publishing houses.
In the early 1990s Naundorf met fashion photographer Horst P. Horst; he soon became an influential mentor and friend, and her work began to take a different path towards fashion. From 1997, Naundorf started photographing backstage Paris fashion shows for Condé Nast.
Since 2005, Naundorf has worked on her Haute Couture series Un rêve de mode, focusing on six couture houses: Chanel, Dior, Gaultier, Lacroix, Elie Saab and Valentino. She has also worked closely with London milliner Philip Treacy throughout her career. Thanks to her outstanding pictures, she was given the privilege to choose gowns from the couturiers’ archives for her elaborate and cinematic productions.
Naundorf’s work has been exhibited at numerous venues in Europe and America, including Hamiltons in early 2012. Her work is continuously published in fashion and lifestyle magazine, notably Harpers Bazaar. The book Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf was published in 2012 in a limited edition by Prestel. Since 2011, Naundorf has worked privately with Mr Valentino Garavani on several projects, including An Italian Story and The New York City Ballet.
She works with large format cameras (Deardorff or Plaubel), mostly with Polaroid and negative films. Naundorf’s images are often opulent, containing exotic props, and sometimes fantastical. She prints onto her negatives and then hand-presseses them, giving the photographs a haunting effect.