My mother had style. One summer in 1977 I went up to visit my mother in Washington State where she now lives. And on this particular afternoon about which I am going to tell you we went into Seattle to Pioneer Square for lunch and a little sightseeing. You know, “Underground Seattle” and all of that tourist stuff that we love to do in other cities but loath to do in our own.
(PIONEER SQUARE SEATTLE)
We entered a smart eatery on the Square and were seated in the greenhouse which was covered with lilac vines. Our seat was by the door and we faced into the dinning room. It must have been a ladies who lunch convention for the entire room was packed with middle-aged women dressed to the nines. I was the only man in the room except for a man facing us alone on the other side of the greenhouse seated next to the door to the interior dining room and the kitchen.
As mother and I settled into our seats and were handed those huge old fashioned menus you can hide a Buick behind we noticed an air of excitement in the room. The place was positively atwitter. Like when a tomcat gets into the giant birdcage at the zoo. The tomcat in this case was the lone gentleman facing us.
I lowered my menu to see what all the hubbub was about.
“Mother don’t be obvious but isn’t that Cesar Romero over there?”
Mother peeked over her menu. “Why yes Lanier, I think it is.” The menu went back up. “I am having the Salmon, what about you?”
Cesar Romero was a romantic Latin matinee idol of the movies back around the time when my mother was a little girl, the 1930’s. That day in Seattle he certainly had not lost one iota of his charm or Movie Star looks. He was indeed impossible not to notice, and he was making sure that the entire room knew he was there. He must have carried his own personal key light where ever he went and it was always turned on. You could not ignore him. There he was a real 24 carat Hollywood Star like they didn’t make anymore.
(CESAR ROMERO CIRCA 1940)
The women in the restaurant were making regular pilgrimages to his table and nearly curtsying as they asked for his autograph. He was gracious to each of them and gave his signature on napkins and old envelopes with a blazing smile. Mother lowered her menu and that was when he saw her. One eyebrow shot up and his tractor beam of white hot glamour narrowed from the entire room to just her. He spent the entire lunch trying to get her attention. All eyes shifted to our table and the twittering doubled. Mother played it cool and never gave him an inch. For me this was a revelatory treat. My mother could play a movie star like he was a smitten teenaged boy. Neither of us even acknowledged what was happening. By the end of lunch the trickle of ladies to Mr. Romero’s table had subsided. They were transfixed over cold plates just waiting for something to happen.
The check came. Despite my protest mother insisted on paying for lunch. When we rose to leave the place was like a tomb. It was so quiet you could hear a mouse pass gas. Suddenly there was the sound of wooden table legs scarping across the floor. Everyone turned toward the sound. Cesar Romero was standing at his table. He bowed elegantly to my mother. The ladies some with their mouths agape all turned their heads to my mother. At the door to the square she half turned and gave him a hint of a smile and a nod then swept out with me in her wake.
Safely outside we burst into laughter. Then it hit her.
“My god! That was Cesar Romero!”
“And he was flirting with YOU!”
“You don’t suppose I could have had an affaire with Cesar Romero do you?” She said all giggles and suddenly sixteen again.
“Maybe mom, but what you just had in there was probably a lot better than an affaire.”
We laughed about it all the way home.
(MR. ROMERO CIRCA 1977)
Vince Camuto the new men’s cologne by American shoe designer Vince Camuto is just the kind of fragrance you would imagine a man like Cesar Romero would wear. From the uber masculine glamour of it’s leather clad bottle design with its silver “wax” seal and gun metal top and cap it is a stunner to look at. It would look good in the dressing room of any star from 1930 to today.
The bold gorgeous bottle gives the impression that you are in for a big show, “Major Studio Premiere Tonight” kind of thing. This Woody Aromatic perfume opens brightly and all smiles for the camera with a delicious pop of pepper, bergamot and mandarin orange. At first I thought, oh here we go this is going to be a powerhouse masculine scent. But no, the opening is misleading. Like popping flashbulbs at a 1940 movie premiere it’s what comes after the red carpet entrance that counts. The three starlet openers of pepper, bergamot and mandarin drop way within twenty minutes, enter the real stars of lavender, nutmeg and a new fresh smooth leather. It becomes subtle and soft like beautiful Spanish leather boots. It takes its time and holds back just enough to be enticing. Like a big close-up at just the right moment. The leather is sumptuous and sensuous how appropriate considering the house of Camuto is all about shoes. It moves closer to the skin in the dry down of musk, patchouli, vetiver and wood keeping the subtle masculine aura alive though to the fade out and…. The End.
Vince Camuto has a wonderful old world meets old Hollywood feeling. It is made of elusive star shine and a dash of the stuff that dreams are made of. Like Romero’s tractor beam of glamour Vince Camuto narrows its focus fairly quickly and then stays on track for about seven hours of wear. Never pushy or loud or the kind of fragrance that calls out for the paparazzo’s attention, I find that Vince Camuto does not wear you. When you wear it, you, not the fragrance are the star.
(VINCE CAMUTO AND PHOTO OF MY FATHER ~ GRIFFITH PARK 1948)
FOUR GOLD STARS ****