Carney, 70, a member of the “fashion police” that are front and center as the black-suited security guards who man the shows, was a former court officer who worked at Brooklyn-based Citadel Security Agency.
On Saturday, Ty Yorio and his son David, co-owners of Citadel, posted the following statement that immediately went viral among the fashion crowd: “It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our beloved friend Tom Carney. Tom was a deeply loved member of the Citadel family and we are heartbroken by this news. Tommy was always quick with a joke and a smile and kept us sane through many trying times. His sense of humor was unmatched. We will miss Tommy tremendously and we hope to honor his life and memory.
“Tom passed away on March 27 after battling the coronavirus for nearly two weeks. We are waiting for news on a memorial service for Tom. We will share the details once they are announced.”
Ty Yorio said Citadel started working with the fashion industry in 1993 when the shows were in Bryant Park, “and we haven’t missed a season.” He and his team, including Carney, “shared 9/11, every hurricane, every blizzard — and we only meet twice a year.” He credited Carney and the other guards who returned every season as key to the group’s success because they recognized and expedited the entry of the legitimate attendees and helped weed out the hangers-on.
“We [our community] are left with the memory of Tom’s quick-snap wit,” Yorio said. “He was always ready to add just the right phrase or quip to a situation unlike anyone I’ve known. He was totally devoted to his family and was a very proud defender of New York City.”
Fern Mallis, who was the executive director of the Council of Fashion Directors of America and senior vice president of IMG Fashion, was one of those who knew him best. “Tommy was the most engaging Citadel security guard at fashion week for 25 years. He got to know so many of the attendees, always had a big smile, a corny joke, a hug and a huge laugh. He did his job, yet made everyone feel welcome. If and when we have another fashion week, you can be sure he will be missed.”
Lisa Smilor, executive vice president of the CFDA, said: “Tommy was beloved by all who knew him — one of the best people you could ever hope to meet. His smile, warmth and kindness were a highlight of NYFW for more than two decades. This gracious and wonderful man will be sorely missed any and every time we have an opportunity to gather together as an industry.”
Publicist James Laforce wrote on Instagram: “Tommy was one of the best things about New York Fashion Weeks: always smiling, always helpful. He made the whole thing work.”
Carney, who lived in Jackson Heights, N.Y., was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp and worked for more than 30 years as a court officer in the New York State family court. He retired in 2015 but had been an active member of Citadel Security since 1993, providing security for the fashion industry for 26 years.
Carney is survived by his wife Eileen; his son, Thomas Carney Jr., a member of the New York City Police Department; his daughter, Christine Carney Conway; six grandchildren; two brothers, James and Michael, a former New York City police officer who also works for Citadel, and three sisters, Betty Frantzen, Pat Horan and Joann Darnowski.