By  on April 9, 2007

PARIS — Judging from the spring collections, neon brights will be popping up in store windows tout de suite. But, like so much else, avant-garde Parisian department store Colette has a jump on this trend, too: until April 28, its first-floor gallery is showing the rainbow-hued works of Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa. Known for her playful renditions of vivid carnations, gleeful goldfish and whimsical portraits, the 34-year-old's work oozes with double entendres, laced with a soupçon of sensuality. One cheerful close-up of evocative efflorescence, for example, is staged from flowers placed on a tombstone in a Tokyo cemetery.

"I wanted to portray the beauty of life and its complexities," explains Ninagawa. "Color is always very complex." A blossoming style icon herself, Ninagawa is all the rage in Tokyo's ever-so-vibrant youth culture, and her works are a common sight in local fashion magazines and commercials. And she's stretching beyond still photography: her debut film, "Sakuran," was presented at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year.

Considering her multimedia talents, perhaps it's no surprise that Ninagawa has creativity in her genes. Her father, Yukio, is a renowned theater director who has mounted productions at Lincoln Center and on the Royal Shakespeare Company's Stratford, England, stage.

"My entire family is very artistic," admits Ninagawa, who, at age 15, saved her allowance to purchase her first professional camera.

Ninagawa recently caught the eye of Celine designer Ivana Omazic, who used her prints on a series of dresses and shoes in his most recent fall collection. "I was amazed to see my prints on Celine dresses," says the photographer. The collection, which is sold exclusively at Colette, will soon include a limited edition Celine handbag codesigned by Omazic and Ninagawa.

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