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Photograph - The Legacy Lives On II

The Legacy Lives On II

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    V&A (photographed)
    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    2016 (printed)
    2014 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Naundorf, Cathleen (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lambda print from original polaroid

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Cathleen Naundorf

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 978, box C

Cathleen Naundorf is a leading photographer of fashion and couture, regularly working with houses such as Valentino and Chanel and publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Like her contemporaries Tim Walker and Miles Aldridge, her fashion photographs are valued as works of art in their own right and are widely collected (major private collectors include Guy Wildenstein and Nicola Erni). She is represented by Hamiltons Gallery, London and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York. In recent years, she has used the V&A galleries, stores and conservation studios as locations for several fashion shoots. In 2014 was invited to shoot at the Museum for the V&A Magazine, to coincide with the opening of the V&A Exhibition ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’. A short film about the shoot can be viewed on the V&A website: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-horst-photographer-of-style/video-cathleen-naundorf-photographs-1930s-french-couture-at-the-v-and-a/
Five of the photographs to be acquired were featured in the V&A magazine, Autumn/Winter 2014 issue, accompanied by the following text by Susanna Brown:

In July this year we invited acclaimed photographer Cathleen Naundorf to the V&A to shoot dazzling 1930s gowns from the museum’s collection, now on display in the first room of ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’, alongside vintage prints from the earliest decade of his long career with Vogue. These ensembles were designed by some of the leading couturiers of pre-war Paris, including Horst’s friend Elsa Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Molyneux, Rouff and Vionnet.Dramatically draped tulle, sheer organza, crêpe, shafts of silver lamé and lace, embellished with sequins, rhinestones and velvet appliqué – the dresses exemplify the fashionable elongated silhouette and delicate detailing of 1930s couture.
It was through her friendship with Horst that Naundorf began photographing haute couture. They were both brought up, generations apart, in the East German town of Weissenfels and first met in New York in the early 1990s. They shared a passion for art and adventure. Horst became Naundorf’s mentor, encouraging the young travel photographer to start experimenting with fashion imagery. He helped her to develop a deeper understanding of light and atmosphere. “It’s the lighting, the drama,” she explains. “It’s called zwielichtin in German, the play of light. If you could see the way the light comes through the leaves in Weissenfels, you’d see where we both get it from.” She learned as much as she could from the man known as the master of light: “I was constantly asking him, how did you set up the light here? From which side? Which lamps? When I saw him I would come with magazines containing his pictures with my notes and drawings all over them.” In 2005 she embarked on the ongoing project Un Rêve de Mode, for which she was given access to the archives of six couture houses and permission to photograph their most exquisite creations in elaborate and dream-like settings.
We visited numerous locations around the V&A in advance of the shoot, before deciding on two contrasting spaces – the Textile Conservation Studio, where the ensembles were expertly prepared in advance of the exhibition, and the grand marble staircase evocative of Horst’s classically inspired sets. Naundorf works predominantly with a large-format camera (Deardorff or Plaubel) using Polaroid and Fuji instant film, a complex process compared with the digital technology that many of her contemporaries favour. Watching her work is thrilling: she shoots fast, flitting between colour and black-and-white film, and her advance planning means she knows precisely the mood that each picture should conjure. Sometimes she will interrupt the development process and transfer a Polaroid image to textured matt paper. The technique produces the seductive painterly effects and ghostly hues that have become her signature.

Physical description

Colour photograph depicting two mannequins clad in dresses standing at the top of a flight of stairs. Both dresses are light in colour and there is a marble wall behind them.

Place of Origin

V&A (photographed)
London (photographed)


2016 (printed)
2014 (photographed)


Naundorf, Cathleen (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Lambda print from original polaroid

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed on verso in black ink:
' "The legacy lives on, II" / shooting in the V&A museum, London 30/31.07.2014 / for the Horst P. Horst exhibition; V&A catalogue / published october 2014 / color-print from original polaroid 2016 / unique print V&A 1,28 / [artist's signature]

Stamped on verson in black ink:
'ARTISTS / PROOF / Cathleen / Naundorf'


Height: 426 mm image, Height: 455 mm paper, Width: 300 mm image, Width: 338 mm paper

Descriptive line

Photograph by Cathleen Naundorf, 'The Legacy Lives On II', 30-31 July 2014, shooting at the V&A for the Horst P. Horst exhibition catalogue (published October 2014). Lambda print from original polaroid, printed 2016.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Susanna Brown, 'Horst: Photographer of Style', London: Victoria and Albert Museum (2014)


Photographic paper


Chromogenic process; Photography

Subjects depicted





Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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