“. . . definitely has a very different story to tell about the world it captures so uniquely.”
Fashion photography books, as we have come to know them, are usually volumes brimming with beautifully rendered portraits of fabulous clothes on even more fabulous models.
Ms. Naundorf stands out from the crowd populated by the likes of Avedon, Horst, Penn, de Meyer, and Hoyningen-Huene first by using an unconventional method of photography and second by ending up with a finished product interpretable in many ways and vastly different from the aforementioned artists.
Polaroids are often associated with instant results with no change possible once that shutter has clicked. They were often used for light and makeup studies before the actual photography session began.
Ms. Naundorf uses a large size format of Polaroid, which is explained in the book in simple terms and does vary from the home use Polaroid. The resulting photography either presents itself as a turn of the 20th century vintage photography, or possibly rotogravure, or a stark high contrast portrait type of print; Ms. Naundorf determines which by her location, background, or set.
Her subject matter is laser focused on fashion and only haute couture. What will strike the diehard fashionista is that the photographs have no tags or names for designer attribution and are almost completely absent of color.
This is fashion used as subject to present art and not to promote commerce or any commercial endeavor, almost as if she is painting for a museum. Her choice of designers definitely leans toward the elaborate with many pieces from Dior, Lacroix, Gaultier, Chanel, and Armani—all of them only from their haute couture collections; yet the finished pieces/”portraits” result in an indecorous and simple effect.
Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf will please those who are visually stimulated by photography, fine art, and fashion as all of these are melded together to provide the finished image. Again, this collection is very rare as the norm is directed at a more fashion oriented audience as opposed to one steeped in fine art or art history.
With the holidays rolling around sooner than we care to think about, this is a book that will be cherished by any knowledgeable or seasoned person of fashion or fan of fashion photography. Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf most definitely has a very different story to tell about the world it captures so uniquely.