Project Runway judge and red carpet regular Zac Posen has been forced to shut down his beloved label, after failing to find a buyer or investor for the struggling business.

Speaking to WWD, the designer said that it was “horrible” and “surreal” to close the company that he started in 2001, and that the decision to do so was “pretty intense”. He told the publication:

“The board made a difficult decision. We were in a sale process and we ran out of time … My partners and I tried everything possible within our means to find solutions to keep it going. I have been trying to find the right strategic partners at this tough time in retail and in the industry. The clock ran out.” 

Posen confirmed that his label House of Z and diffusion line Z Spoke have both shut down, effective immediately, and that employees of the business were given the news on Friday afternoon.

This also means that the new spring collection he showed in September will not ship.

Zac Posen has cultivated a large celebrity following, with the likes of RihannaOprah, Naomi Watts, Katie HolmesMichelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow often seen in his designs.

“It breaks my heart for my customer and the people who work for me,” he said, adding that he is considering his options as he enters this “new stage” of his career.

“I will always have me. I will always have my creativity,” he said.

Image: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris