Vince Camuto for Men (Vince Camuto)

One of the great mysteries of our time is why in the living hell an upscale fashion and accessories designer would choose to skimp on his brand's perfume. Granted, a $500 suit isn't considered an "expensive" suit in the world of suits (you're probably looking at $10K - $25K per outfit to earn that label), but it's pricey enough to figure on a well-made fragrance, made with above average materials, and packaged in a classy bottle. No such luck - Camuto's signature masculine smells inexpensive and uninspired, another aromatic afterthought in an ugly jug from a lazy brand.

Harry Fremont is one of those wildly successful Firmenich perfumers with a few dozen titles under his belt - Kenneth Cole Black for Men, Halston's Catalyst for Men, and Polo Sport to name a few - and his middle-of-the-road pedigree shows in abundance with VC for Men. The scent is actually quite pleasant, a spicy fougère with a fairly common scratchy-woody accord that people call "leather" nowadays. VC for Men has become somewhat ubiquitous as of late, with leather-wrapped bottles appearing everywhere, and I attribute that to broad distribution and a wide market net, not popularity. This is an inoffensive and safe office scent that no perfume enthusiast would need for any reason other than to have an inoffensive and safe office scent on hand.

I wish I could say more about it, but Vince Camuto for Men is about as boring as it gets. Smelling the fragrance makes me want to avoid the brand's clothing, which looked dull to begin with. Mr. Camuto obviously holds perfume in low regard, or he would have asked Firmenich to custom-design something interesting for him, and to not pull a ready-made formula off the "Harry Fremont" shelf. Try harder, Vince.


  1. Hi Bryan,

    The same question has often arisen in my mind. One time I pointed out that a bottle of Balmain perfume costs about the price of a button on a Balmain blouse. Happily, Balmain actually makes some pretty good juice--they just give it away nearly for free.

    I think that the incredible price and priority disparity derives ultimately from the prevailing view of perfume as a toiletry, along the lines of deodorant, toothpaste, and mouthwash. People will pay thousands of dollars for a single article of clothing, but for cologne?

    Now some of the designers appear to be jumping on the "perfume is art" bandwagon (Tom Ford?), having recognized the potential for profit in elevating the status of this product and modifying the price tag accordingly. I believe, however, that they will always prefer volume sales, keeping perfume in the mass market, and never restricting it only to haute couture buyers.

    One reason for continuing to run perfume on the sidelines, as an accessory of sorts, is that it does more for brand name recognition than anything else. Most people will never smell the juice, but everyone will see the ads...

    1. I think the general population just doesn't see perfume as anything more than an afterthought. Everyone I've encountered who is not in the fragrance community, but who discover my blog, either through my invitation or that of family and friends, all say the same thing: "what is there to talk about?" People don't think there is any substance here. Designers are the same way. "Make me something that smells good. We can distribute it to department stores and make big dollars via mass sales." You can't make big dollars selling suits for two thousand bucks, because they're not being mass-produced, but perfume is mass produced. If you sell the suits AND the perfume, you now have two cash-flow models in full tilt.

    2. So true. In our cloistered world of perfume lovers (fanatics?), fragrance seems very important--right up there with food and drink! But for most of the people out there we're a very odd subculture--right down there with just about any eccentric hobby you can think of, and probably much lower than either wine or art appreciation. No one in my family can understand why in the world I would write so much about such a "frivolous" topic. ;-) They respect me for my other writing, but regard the perfume "stuff" as inexplicably idiosyncratic.


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