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Anne Eustis Pepper Stewart, known as Wendy Pepper, passed away Friday at the age of 53.

The “Project Runway” first season contestant “died peacefully on November 12, 2017, surrounded by her loving family” just one month after the passing of fellow contestant Mychael Knight, who appeared on Season 3 of the fashion competition series, at age 39. In addition to her coming in third place on the series, she “designed and hand-sewed exceptionally beautiful clothes for children and adults.”

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of another member of the Project Runway family, designer Wendy Pepper, this year,” a spokesperson for Lifetime, which began airing “Project Runway” after the show left Bravo, said on Friday. “Wendy was one of the original designers that sent creations down the catwalk, paving the way for other designers to come. We wish her family and friends peace during this difficult time.”

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“She was an artist who proudly forged her own path in life,” her family wrote of her in her obituary. “She was a chef, a writer, and a life-long entrepreneur. Her wit and humor were unmatched, as was her generosity of spirit.”

Pepper is survived by her daughter Finley M. Stewart, as well as her parents, three brothers, one sister and many nieces and nephews. While her cause of death is currently unclear, a funeral service will be held for her on Dec. 1 in Georgetown.

Following her passing, many fans took to social media to share their condolences, with one appearing to quote “Project Runway” and writing, “If you really want to succeed, you’ve gotta be willing to throw yourself into the arena. #wendypepper you will be remembered for being a talented designer and a witty and humorous lady and mother.”

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Former “Project Runway” contestant and fashion designer passes away at just 53 years old Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic
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