The Project Runway contestant, known for his avant-garde creations, went on to star on his own Bravo show, Mad Fashion

By Colleen Kratofil and Joelle Goldstein
September 06, 2019 08:00 PM

Project Runway‘s Chris March has died. He was 56.

March passed away on Thursday afternoon following an extensive health battle that included being placed in a medically induced coma and suffering paralysis in both legs, as well as his arm and hand.

Fellow Bravo star Andy Cohen confirmed his death in a touching Instagram post that featured a photo of March hilariously dressed up as Real Housewives of Beverly HillsLisa Vanderpump, taken during a Halloween episode of Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live.

“This is how I’m going to remember Chris March, dressed as Lisa Vanderpump as I wear a Giggy costume he made for one of our first Halloween specials,” Cohen, 51, wrote. “Chris was a finalist on Season 4 of Project Runway.”

“He designed for everyone from Beyoncé, Gaga, Madonna, Meryl, Prince and many legendary downtown drag queens (And Sonja Morgan!). He had a big booming laugh; he was a joy and delight. #RIP” he continued.

A spokesperson for Bravo told PEOPLE in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the news of Chris March’s passing. He was a favorite among Bravo fans and the fashion community. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. He will truly be missed.”

TMZ reported that the Project Runway alum passed away after suffering a heart attack.

The Bravo reality show contestant competed on season 4 against designer Christian Siriano and placed 4th.

He also appeared on Project Runway All Stars and had his own show, Mad Fashion, on Bravo, where he designed client Chrissy Teigen‘s 2011 Met Gala gown and made custom creations for Jennifer Coolidge, Dina Manzo, among others.

March is known for his creative, avant-garde style and crafted one-of-a-kind pieces for the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Meryl Streep, including her 2010 Oscars dress.

He also brought his colorful design aesthetic to the mass market with a line of whimsical foam Halloween wigs for Target in 2013.

Credit: Bennett Raglin/WireImage

In June 2017, the designer had a near-fatal accident in his apartment.

March fell, hit his head and awoke four days later. When he got to the hospital he was put in a medically induced coma, in which he remained for two months before waking up to find that he was paralyzed in both legs from the knees down, as well as his right hand and arm.

“I passed out and laid there for 4 days,” he told Entertainment Weekly in a statement from 2018. “I woke up and called 911 and somehow got to the hospital.”

“In the hospital, all sorts of medical problems happened: My blood sugar was over 500. My organs started failing, my right lung collapsed, and they had to give me a tracheotomy and put me on a ventilator,” he added.

Credit: Thomas Concordia/WireImage

After his fall, he had several setbacks in his recovery. He started a GoFundMe page to help offset the enormous cost of medical bills and kept fans updated on the struggles he faced.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE at the time — and posted on his GoFundMe website in March — he said the biggest hardship he faced was his inflated medical insurance.

“I am also in need of leg braces, specialized physical therapy, a hearing aid, and a new living arrangement,” he wrote.

March was currently living in a space that was “unbearable” and made him “anxious and depressed every day” writing that in the nursing facility he had to “deal with homophobia, shortage of rehab personnel and lack of funds.”

“I have considered suicide many times,” he wrote. “I have tried my best to make strides.”

Despite his setbacks after the fall, March found the strength to fight in his signature style, sharing a photo of himself in a nurse uniform with a colorful wig.

“In the face of all my setbacks, I try to remain positive — the leg braces are an exciting new tool on my road to recovery,” he wrote. “I am trying to get my tracheotomy removed, and I try my best to effect positive change in this facility for myself and all the residents here.”

He added, “I try to add humor, glamour, and a little glitter to my world.”

Following news of his death, fans and friends of March rushed to social media to pay tribute to the Project Runway alum.

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One fan wrote on Twitter: “This absolutely breaks my heart. Chris was such a light on his season of Project Runway. He was one of the first big, boisterous gay men I saw on TV who wasn’t the butt of the joke, but the one making everyone laugh. What a light in the world.”

“Super bummed to learn that designer Chris March has died,” added someone else. “The Project Runway alum was easily one of the coolest designers to ever walk its catwalk, & designed looks for Madonna, Prince, Gaga, & so many others. The world is better because you got to spread your glitter on it. RIP”