Fur, cashmere and the color violet at Ralph Rucci

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A model walks the runway during the Ralph Rucci Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof)

NEW YORK (AP) — Designers all have their reasons for choosing the colors in their collections. And Ralph Rucci has a particularly romantic one.

"The base of the collection is violet," the designer said backstage after his fall/winter preview Sunday night at New York Fashion Week. "It took weeks to establish the exact color. Then we sent it to all the mills."

But why violet?

"It's a personal reference," he explained. Pried yet further, he added: "It's the eye color of someone in my life."

Rucci's brilliant shade of violet first appeared on his runway in a "mink pullover" — the mere term a clear sign of how he is attempting to meld his signature luxury into more casual garments.

The same color returned in dresses of wool jersey or crêpe, in a silk raincoat, in a sable coat, in a particularly well-proportioned cashmere suit, in a cashmere coat with leather embroidery, and even in filmy lace pajamas.

And it appeared once more for the final, show-ending garment: a long wool gown with tulle insets.

There were, of course, other colors, if for less romantic reasons: black, in crepe or bonded cashmere, leather or sable. A sleeveless knitted paillette dress with feathering looked like it came straight from a nightclub full of 1920s flappers.

And applause greeted seven colorful items in luxurious mink that were displayed in quick succession — in nude, citrus, shocking pink, chrome yellow, white, black and of course, violet.

Rucci, famous for his intricate couture techniques, has a high-profile following. Guests included Martha Stewart, a Rucci regular, and Sandra Bernhard.

The designer said he recognizes that the market is changing and skewing younger. He said he has had "to ease up on the expectation that every woman will have an a priori knowledge" of his craft.

"I'm easing up and letting the garments stand for themselves," he said.