‘Project Runway’ Contestant Wendy Pepper Dies at 53

Wendy Pepper during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2005 at The Plaza, Bryant Park in New York City.
Wendy Pepper during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2005 at The Plaza, Bryant Park in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Project Runway contestant Wendy Pepper died earlier this week. She was 53 years old.

Pepper, whose real name was Anne Eustis Pepper Stewart, passed away on Sunday, November 12, according to a Washington Post obituary.

She competed on the first season of the designer competition show in 2004. After becoming a fan favorite and placing third in the competition, she went on to appear on the second season of Project Runway: All Stars, which aired in 2012 and 2013.

The obituary did not list Pepper’s cause of death, but the publication did note she died peacefully and was surrounded by family, including her daughter Finley.

“She was an artist who proudly forged her own path in life,” the obituary read. “A finalist on season one of Project Runway, Wendy designed and hand-sewed exceptionally beautiful clothes for children and adults. She was a chef, a writer, and a life-long entrepreneur. Her wit and humor were unmatched, as was her generosity of spirit.”

Fans, including Andy Cohen, reacted to the news of Pepper’s passing on Twitter.

“#RIP one of the first of many great characters to appear on #ProjectRunway,” the 49-year-old Watch What Happens Live host wrote. “She was a big reason for the first season’s success.”

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