Vince Camuto Dies: Fashion Community Reacts

Designers, retailers and fans have taken to social media to mourn the death of legendary shoe designer Vince Camuto. The fashion icon, 78, died this week. He was remembered by close friends and contemporaries, who praised his contributions to the footwear industry.

Camuto, who cofounded Nine West, received moving tributes from Jessica Simpson, who called him “my mentor, my family,” Ivy Kirzhner, Kenneth Cole and Joyce Azria. FN talked to those close to the designer as well:

Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Inc., said: “We have lost a special person within the footwear industry.  He was as talented a person I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know.  Interestingly, as each year passed he literally got more enthusiastic about the customer and the business.  He loved being on the floor, talking to the customer, and because of his rich background and innate skills, he instinctively season after season came up with great product.  We would talk every couple of months and I always got a huge lift from being on the receiving end of his infectious spirit for the business.  Our family and team extend our thoughts and prayers to Vince’s family and co-workers.”

Liz Rodbell said Camuto was an example of true determination and realizing the American dream. “His story of success is rooted in an eye for fashion, true leadership and great style.  Vince was someone who really cared and treated people like they were a part of his extended family.  I was honored to call Vince a friend,” said the president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay.

“I met him when I was 23 years old and an assistant buyer at Kinney Shoe,” said Bob Campbell, chairman and CEO, BBC International. “I admired Vince from day one. I knew him as a salesman when he and Jack Fisher sold domestic shoes way before Nine West. He was a great, great shoe guy and probably one of the best design people.”

Steve Madden said: “Vince always had his eye out for young talent, he was an early supporter and believer in what I was doing and it really meant a lot. He was the giant of the shoe industry, along with Jack Fisher. Those two guys were like the [John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney of the shoe business. We’ve had a very friendly rivalry; he was just amazing. The way his career had such longevity, maybe he’s the greatest shoe man that ever lived. You’re never going to see his type again.”

Footwear veteran Sam Edelman shared similar sentiments: “Vince Camuto was a visionary and some might say ‘the greatest shoe man of all time’.  Libby, our son Jesse and I have the utmost respect and admiration for all he accomplished throughout his career. Our thoughts are with Louise and the entire Camuto family.”

CEO of Kurt Geiger Neil Clifford spoke similarly of the designer, saying:”I am totally broken about the news. To me, Vince Camuto was the American Dream and a personal motivator for me — so driven, passionate and knowledgeable. He had inexhaustible energy for his business and his people, and no matter what he achieved tomorrow, he would do it better tomorrow. He’s an irreplaceable legend.”

“I was in a meeting with him when I was at May Co. We were reviewing the Nine West line and there was a room full of shoes, remembered Ken Hicks, executive chairman of Foot Locker. “I asked him what his 10 best shoes were. He got up and left the room. Five minutes later he came back with a handful of shoes. I said, Vince, these aren’t in your line.  He said, no, but you asked me what I thought the best shoes were. He knew his company and he knew what would sell. He had a view of the business and a way of developing lines. He didn’t just develop shoes, he developed brands and lines with staying power.”

On Instagram, friends shared:

@andrew_marc On behalf of the Andrew Marc and the GIII family, we take a moment to reflect and celebrate the life of Vince Camuto, and the everlasting impact he has made on the fashion community. May he rest in peace. #VinceCamuto #ripvince #icon #legend #fashionicon #fashion

@ivykirzhner Thank you, Vince. Thank you for believing. Thank you for all the encouragement and for blessing us with your wisdom and passion. Thank you for inspiring us to become the best we could be and for making us realize that there are no limits in what a person can achieve. I feel so honored and so blessed to have learned directly from you. High five, Jedi master. May you rest in power #VinceCamuto.

@oliviaandjoy Very sad day in the world of fashion. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the @vincecamuto family and team #rip #legend #classic #vincecamuto #icon #fashion

@aimeekestenberg A kind and inspirational man who I feel lucky to have had the chance to know and work with. The world misses you already and sending my blessings to the @vincecamuto team and family. #vincecamuto #legend #youwillbemissed

@joyceazria To a friend, a mentor, a true gentleman — I will miss you and never forget you @vincecamuto

@lordandtaylor To our friend, an inspiration and a legend. A true Life of Style. @VinceCamuto, 1936-2015

@kennethcole Hearts out to a true pioneer, a #shoe industry icon & legend — a man who consistently defied all industry odds and a role model for so many. #RIPVinceCamuto he will be missed. @VinceCamuto #vincecamuto

On Twitter, everyone from Gilt founder Alexis Maybank to shoe designer Donald J. Pliner shared their thoughts on Camuto:


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