Fashion has another major casualty: Zac Posen. The designer is shuttering the business that he founded in 2001.

“Horrible.” “Pretty intense.” “Surreal.” Posen thus described the closure in a conversation with WWD on Friday afternoon. “We had to close up House of Z, Z-Spoke, the whole company,” he said.

The decision came today, a move Posen called “surprising and immediate.” Employees were informed this afternoon. The company will cease operations immediately, and the spring collection Posen showed in September will not be shipped. “The board made a difficult decision,” he said. “We were in a sale process and we ran out of time.

“There was a board vote. We had to make the call,” Posen continued. “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.”

As reported in April Yucaipa Cos., Ron Berkle’s investment firm, which has owned a stake in the brand for more 15 years, was looking to sell. According to Posen, there had been discussions with several potential buyers, but ultimately noting came to fruition. “I’ve been trying to not have this happen for a month. We found out this morning there was not [a solution].”

Posen said that Yucaipa and Berkle “have been very supportive,” and that “it’s important for me to be respectful of a very, very tough decision. I gave it all I could.”

That “all” has included designing 14 apparel collections each year as well as those of numerous licensees and deals with Delta, General Electric and Brooks Brothers. The last has been an ongoing relationship, which Posen expects to continue.

Fashion is not an easy ride. Posen launched his brand at a young age, and hit some bumps along the way. “I feel I was raised by this industry,” he said, noting the strength of the relationships he’s built with press, retailers and with a devoted customer base. While recently he has focused on building the daywear side of his business, he is most known for event dressing, including a major presence on the red carpet. “We have dressed everybody, from the biggest stars to emerging talents to royalty. I feel really fortunate to have made clothes they responded to.” Among those who had worked his high-glamour designs on the red carpet: Oprah, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes.

“It breaks my heart for my customer and the people who work for me,” Posen said. He added that he’s proud as well of the talent he has nurtured, “emerging talent, those who have stayed with me and others who have gone out across the industry.”

Despite the shock of the forced shuttering of his company, Posen sounded resolute about the way he has conducted himself and of the future. “I think I’ve worked with integrity and care,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a long career ahead. I need to take a little time to think about my options. I’ve been focused on my brand for a long time. Now, this is a new stage.”

“We’ll see,” he offered. “I will always have me. I will always have my creativity.”

Read more from WWD: 

Daniella Vitale Out at Barneys as ABG Takes the Reins

Mittal Family Confirms Sale of Escada to Private Equity Firm Regent

EXCLUSIVE: Zac Posen Investor Explores Selling Stake in Fashion Company

WATCH: Fashion 360 With Zac Posen and Winnie Harlow

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