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Book Review: Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture by Cathleen Naundorf - FashionWindows
Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture

In this digital world, hard copy photos have become endangered species. The beloved 4×6 and 8×10 formats are now after-thoughts, often ignored. Enter the very likely to happen doomsday prediction of the coming of a Digital Dark Age. The result – photograph hard copies are experiencing a resurgence, albeit they have morphed into something awesome – the coffee table book!

These were my first thoughts when I received a copy of Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture.” A collection of 150 color and B&W photographs shot by internationally renowned photographer Cathleen Naundorf, the book is a treasure throve of haute couture gowns and dresses from the famed fashion house.

Granted exclusive access to the CHANEL archives, Naundorf handpicked gowns and photographed them in historically important Paris locations like the Grand Palais, and Coco Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment, or against theatrical settings of her own design.

Also compelling are dozens of pages of Naundorf’s own working notebooks with Polaroids, tearsheets, and handwritten marginalia documenting projects and inspirations. The result is a richly personal book of photographs that capture the essence of CHANEL haute couture – exquisite creations that entail thousands of hours of hand-sewing, embellishing, and finishing.

Arranged like a scrapbook, “Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture” becomes personal. Thumbing through the pages, you feel as if you were there when the photo was taken. Poignant, because you feel as if it was from another era; yet, also encouraging, even hopeful because you know that even if the Digital Dark Age arrive, you know that these photos will survive.

If you are into fashion, “Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture” should be in your library. If you love scrapbooking, this book will give you ideas for your next project. If you love to take photos, whether with your iPhone or a DSLR camera, Cathleen Naundorf will inspire you!


Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture

By Cathleen Naundorf
Foreword by Jérôme Neutres
Hardcover with jacket / 10” x 13” / 208 pages / 150 color and b&w photographs
$115.00 U.S., $155.00 Canadian, £90.00 U.K.
ISBN: 978-0-8478-6348-8 / Rizzoli / Release Date: October 2018

All photos copyright Cathleen Naundorf