Legendary Footwear Designer Vince Camuto Dies at 78

He co-founded Nine West and the Camuto Group

By Francesca Bacardi Jan 22, 2015 1:29 PMTags
Vince CamutoCindy Ord/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Vince Camuto, legendary women's footwear designer, died at home in Greenwich, Conn., Wednesday of cancer. He was 78 years old.

His career began at age 18 when he answered customer complaints at I. Miller, but the iconic designer ultimately built a women's shoes empire when he co-founded Nine West with former business partner Jerome Fisher in 1978 and eventually sold it to Jones Apparel Group in 1999. He then went on to establish Camuto Group in 2001, which became an industry leader in design, marketing and production services. The Camuto Group worked with iconic brands such as Tory Burch, BCBG, Max Azria and many others.

In 2005 Camuto went on to start his namesake footwear line, Vince Camuto, and shortly thereafter launched lines VC Signature Vince Camuto and Louise et Cie that generate about $1 billion in global sales. He also went on to partner with Tory Burch to help her design the now-famous Reva ballet flat. 

Jessica Simpson posted a tribute to her Instagram about her mentour and wrote, "Thank you, Vince, 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...you made them. #brokenheart."

"I really listened and learned, especially from the women," he said of his humble beginggings, according to Women's Wear Daily. "They told you what they liked, what they didn't like." 

And with all of his success, he learned that that the customer would always be the most important.

"We don't think that we can fool her. We give her the best value," he said.

He leaves behind his wife, Louise Camuto, and five children.