Big shoes to fill

If women are walking with a heavier step today, it’s because Vince Camuto has died of cancer at age 78.

Camuto, who lived in gilded splendor in Greenwich, parlayed his success with Nine West into a multibillion accessories empire that embraced such brands as Tory Burch and Jessica Simpson.

“Everyone says, ‘Vince Camuto has the golden touch,’ and I could not agree more,” friend and fellow Greenwich-based designer Tommy Hilfiger wrote in the foreword to Camuto’s sumptuous “Life of Style” (Assouline,  300 pages, $250), which WAG featured in its October “Brain Power” issue. “But it is not good fortune that turns everything in his presence to gold. Hard work, immense passion, solid business acumen and an immaculate, distinctive sense of style are the driving forces behind the story of his success.”

Raised in the tough climate of the prewar East Village, Camuto, a Tony Curtis lookalike, first set his sights on show biz, not shoe biz. But an early marriage necessitated a steady job, which he found at I. Miller, the tony Fifth Avenue shoe store. That training ground would lead to opportunities at home and abroad, a partnership with Jerome Fisher and the birth of Nine West, so named for the big red “9” outside the Fisher Camuto Corp.’s headquarters in the Solow Building, 9 W. 57 St., off Fifth Avenue.

“Some people dream things will happen,” Camuto wrote. “Some people want things to happen. Some people make things happen.”

But he always credited his success to his “muse and the love of my life,” wife Louise.

“She is Vince’s secret weapon,” Hilfiger writes.

Together the couple shared homes with family on Long Island as well as Greenwich.

Today, celebrities remembered Camuto as more than a man who kept them well-heeled.

“Thank you, Vince,” Jessica Simpson posted on Instagram, “for the humble power that has taken me everywhere. You are my mentor, my family, the creator of all my dreams. I will forever walk in your shoes …”

For more on WAG’s Vince Camuto book feature, click on to http://www.wagmag.com/a-smart-heart/. – Georgette Gouveia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *