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Interview with Ty Yorio of Citadel Security

- by Rhonda Erb, fashion reporter for lookonline.com

Ty Yorio standing in front of members of his staff

They are the unsung heroes of IMG's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Ty Yorio leads a team of experienced security professionals who are collectively responsible for making sure twice yearly fashion extravaganza runs like a well oiled machine. Personable and gregarious, the former New York City detective is the President and founder of Citadel Security, an organization that has provided security to the New York fashion week shows since its inception as "7thonSixth" in 1993.

Depending on your point of view, security exists today at the Lincoln Center venue to either keep you out or protect you once you’re inside. Yorio and staff, a collection of current and retired police officers, court officers, and military personnel, deal not only with the editors and guests for the shows, but also must create a safe, secure environment in the back of the house for the designers. They understand the importance of these events to the designers and plan ahead for any special requests. Yorio and his people also make sure to keep photographers happy, and try to assist them in getting the important shots that they want.

The real challenge for crowd control is, of course, the lobby of the tent, as people wait for shows. Yorio speaks with obvious pride of what he refers to as the “ballet of stanchions”, the ever-moving barricades that allow for crowds to flow smoothly into one show while another is taking place. The tents are a bee-hive of activity, but Yorio believes there is no better place to host such a large number of shows one right after another. And it is his moving stanchions that allow the flexibility to tailor the flow of guests to the needs of each show. Don’t try to get by any of Yorio’s staff, as they have seen it all. Yorio recalls the early days of the Bryant Park shows, when people would try to crawl in under the tents. He laughs that today’s would be fashion spectator knows that a stunt of that sort would never get by security. They’ve also heard it all. Excuses to be let in without an invitation include, “I’m on the List”, “I left it in the cab”, “I’ve moved,” or “My assistant has it.” And then there’s the all time favorite, which Yorio refers to as the “double-header”: “I’m with her, she’s with me, don’t you know who I am?”

Actually, they do know who you are. After providing security at the shows for twenty years, they know the regulars, and they know who is usually seated in the first or second row. These familiar faces are the people who give them the fewest problems.

Of course security is always a serious issue, particularly in those early post 9/11 days. Tour buses pass and slow-down as the tents become a point of attraction for tourists. Anyone walking on Sixth Avenue cannot help but be caught up in the excitement. Limiting access to the stairs of the tent to those holding invitations is another way that potential problems are avoided.


Interview

Left: Ty Yorio; Right: Zach Eichman (photo: Isabelle Erb)

Yorio appears to be extremely content with his work. “I’m very happy at the level I’m at right now. The danger in security is that if you get too big your finger is off the pulse of your client and you really don’t know what is going on.” Zach Eichman, the former Director of Public Relations for IMG Fashion/ 7thonSixth (now head of communications with Tommy Hillfiger) agrees. “One of the benefits of working with this company (Citadel) is you don’t lose that person to person contact.” Yorio took pride in having maintained a close working relationship with executive director Fern Mallis and her staff during her tenure with 7thonSixth. “Fern never missed a thing,” he adds.

Citadel Security continues ot stay busy throughout the year: other clients include synagogues, churches, department stores, and private individuals. They will arrive at Lincoln Center two weeks before the shows begin and they’ll stay there for a week after Fashion Week ends. Yorio and staff will be with IMG Fashion Weeks in Los Angeles in March and in Miami in July. By then, it will be time for them to head back to New York to get ready for the September shows.

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