Tommy Carney wasn’t a designer or a stylist. He didn’t do hair and makeup or walk the runway. But he was as much a part of New York Fashion Week as anyone who sat in the front row or stood on the photographers’ riser.

Tommy was part of the security team from Citadel, the black-suited guardians who make sure the lines are orderly, the venues, from backstage to front-of-house, are secure and that the poseurs never make their way into the shows. From Bryant Park to Lincoln Center, Skylight to Pier 59, Tommy’s big smile was the first thing many fashionistas would see as they descended, en masse, on “the shows.” And he was there, season after season, for 25 years and 5,000 runways.

Of course, there was more to Tommy Carney than Fashion Week. He was a family man and an avid golfer. His boss at Citadel Security, Ty Yorio, called Tommy a “staunch defender of New York City”, and he was. Born in Hell’s Kitchen, he spent 30 years as a Family Court Officer before joining the private sector. That call to service runs in the family. His brother, Michael, is retired from the NYPD. Another brother, James, is retired from the FDNY. His son, Tom, Jr., is also a member of the NYPD.   

COVID-19 claimed Tommy Carney on Friday, after he battled the virus for two weeks. He was 70 years old. He leaves behind a devastated family: his wife, Eileen, his son, Tom, Jr. and daughter, Christine, two brothers, four sisters and six grandkids he loved with all his heart. They won’t be allowed to hold a funeral to say goodbye. But he also leaves a grieving fashion family, the photographers, editors and buyers he herded into countless show rooms with a combination of toughness and humor. From around the world, they took to social media to talk about their shock and sadness, and to remember a friend, a much-loved part of the fashion community, now lost.