Vince Camuto Eau de Parfum is the debut fragrance of the self-described "fashion footwear and lifestyle designer." The perfume launched exclusively this month on the HSN channel and website. Camuto appeared to promote his signature scent with wife Louise Camuto; she is also the artistic director for the brand. Both were involved in the development of the fragrance through what sounds like a selective process, rather than a perfume development from scratch. One day finally, as Louise Camuto was wearing a new sample unbeknownst to her husband, she provoked an aha reaction in him. Vince Camuto, who had been rejecting mods after mods, that day wondered what that great smell was in the room. They settled on that mod.
The scent is presented as a floral chypre and was created by perfumer Steve DeMercado. One can recognize his touch which he brings to several celebrity fragrances, in particular to Queen Latifah and Jessica Simpson. He has a knack for creating sophisticated, warm, gourmands accords thanks to sweets and cocktail-hour inspired notes. They could be too much of a good thing, but they usually manage to convince you that they are not just for soccer moms, but that a lady could wear them in the evening...
Vince Camuto EDP borrows from the perfumer's palette but also savviness as to what pleases more widely, while playing in a different playground than that of a straightforward celebrity scent. Likewise, the composition features a leather accord which is not typical of celebrity fragrances. The soft suede-like facet makes reference to the leather goods designed by the brand.
Notes are: Top: rum absolute, osmanthus nectar. Heart: Bulgarian white rose, rich leather and night blooming jasmine. Base notes: vanilla absolute, sensual patchouli, warm amber Brazil and skin musk.
The fragrance opens on an initial, realistic note of Caraibbean rum soon followed by a very fruity note of berry counterbalanced by muskier, clean-sweat-like accents, but also a welcome natural-feeling fruity muskiness which prevents the composition from coming accross as lacking in sophistication. The scent teeters on the edge of being a fruity-floral for youngins. Some dry and fizzy aldehydes support the initial accord adding a sense of restraint and discipline to the gourmand, jammy accord.
The list of notes gives "osmanthus nectar" as the explanation for the jam-like sensation. The emphasis here is more on "nectar" than "osmanthus." It references a treat which is sometimes used in lieu of honey by those in the know. Judging from the list of ingredients on a jar of osmanthus nectar, the osmanthus comes spiked with fruits. The abricot-y tones of osmanthus, while discernable, are superseded by tart and sweet berry-like accents in the Vince Carmuto rendition of the gourmand accord.
As the perfume develops, a note of leather makes a subtle entrance, again counterbalancing the sweetness and naïveté of the osmanthus-cum-berry jam accord. It recalls, historically speaking, the sweet note of orange blossom that traditionally scented leather gloves. The French niche fragrance house Parfumerie Générale created a very sweet, gourmand leather perfume called Cuir Venenum and Vince Camuto EDP goes in that direction.
After a while the composition comes together as a creamy, leathery, and fruity concoction. The leather note manifests itself through a sense of textural softness but also with its top note smelling a bit of vinyle. The drydown smells like your skin but better.
While the perfume was advertized as a chypre, it is really a low-cal chypre. There is little of the classical austerity of a chypre fragrance. If one strains one's nose, one can detect a mossy structure kept to the level of a discreet hum. All the edges have been rounded off, all the dry notes have been sweetened. Most revealing, the drydown does not project much like a chypre but winds down quite a bit like a skin scent. The tart berry accents in a modern-chypre guise are probably inspired by Miss Dior Chérie.
What remains is a feminine leather perfume which has been creamed plus steeped in nectar so as to feel like the perfumery equivalent of a liqueur for ladies. This leather fragrance is the perfumery version of the distillers' ideas about predominating feminine tastes for recreational beverages: it should be very sweet and dainty and not too strong. Its sweetness never feels dangerous nor excessive like for Cuir Venenum. You can try, but you will not hear the sound of the crack of a whip here like in Bandit by Piguet.
In the end, it is almost as if the word "chypre" had become a literary term which one ought to affix to a perfume to make it sound sophisticated and worldly while ensuring that the smell be more approachable. On the other hand, if you like your leather sweet and soft and skin-like, it's one to try.