February 14, 2005 -- It's down to the final thread. There are just three remaining finalists vying for the big prize on "Project Runway," the fashion-world reality show hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum.
And they couldn't be more different.
Kooky comedian Jay McCarroll, 29, has created fierce and sexy designs, from a bondage-style swimsuit to a gorgeous form-fitting wedding dress.
The only man in the bunch, he hasn't won a challenge yet, but each week improves his skill.
Air Force brat Kara Saun, 37, claims "the world" is her home.
A costume designer who has worked with stars like Queen Latifah, she's inspired by Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen and is a genius with leather, fur and lace.
But don't count out ruthless, conniving designer Wendy Pepper, a 39-year-old mom from Virginia, who steals fabrics and badmouths the other contestants.
"I enjoy watching people squirm," she said in episode 9.
After her victory last week led to the ouster of flamboyant favorite Austin Scarlett, fans went berserk and filled the Bravo message boards with anti-Wendy venom. This Wednesday night, all 12 designers who started out on the show get to discuss their experiences, and attack the streak-haired housewife. In a preview, finalist Kara Saun is quoted as saying: "Don't sell your soul to get anywhere because you may need it one day."
For the live, two-hour finale, scheduled for Feb. 23, these three remaining finalists will reveal the collections they unveiled during Fashion Week for actress Parker Posey, designer Michael Kors and Klum to judge. Some of those designs are pictured here.
The winner, announced during the finale, will get a photo spread in Elle and $100,000 to launch a clothing line.
Who do you think should win? Cast your vote at www.nypost.com
JAY MCCARROLL: COMIC CLUB KID
29-year-old Pennsylvania native who ran a live porn
Web site for two years
Strengths: Everybody loves Jay. He is the backbone and the comedian of the group. Not many designers can make a dress out of aluminum foil, as he did on episode 1. His avant-garde approach to fashion (functional layers, contours, cuts and fabric placement) is individual and futuristic, identifying him not only as a designer, but also as a fashion artist. During Fashion Week, he unveiled a futuristic metallic-colored collection of funky, club kid clothes.
Weaknesses: He has stayed under the radar, never winning a challenge but always slipping by.
Jay on why he should win: "Have you watched the show?"
His chances: While he hasn't won a competition, he's gotten better every week - and could be saving it all for the last win.
WENDY PEPPER: STITCH BITCH
39-year-old mom from Middleburg, Va.
Strengths: The self-proclaimed "interpretive designer," has created some nice looks, from a sexy bathing suit made of colored straws to a graceful, seductive white wedding gown. She unveiled a harvest-toned collection of silk dresses and a bright orange, skintight jumpsuit during Fashion Week. She won the last challenge to design a dress for "Access Hollywood" host Nancy O'Dell for the Grammy Awards.
Weaknesses: With her signature white highlights and cutthroat attitude, Pepper has made an enemy of everyone. From stealing Kara Saun's fabric, badmouthing other contestants and becoming the Omarosa of the group, viewers can expect more than scissors to come out in the last episode. Her designs have been considered dowdy.
Wendy on why she should win: "I won two of the most commercially visible challenges and proved my marketability in the today's highly competitive fashion industry."
Her chances: Widely hated, but she's won two challenges out of nine total.
KARA SAUN: LEATHER DIVA
37-year-old Air Force brat
Strengths: She is the queen of stitching leather and lace. Kara Saun's creations are all intricate works of art, from a flirty yellow silk dress to a bold leather-and-tweed overcoat. She received $960 for her wedding dress, the highest online auction bid on projectrunway.com. She has a lot of past design experience, having designed Queen Latifah's gown for the Oscars in 2000. She unveiled a Fantasy Fly-Girl collection of crocodile leather jackets and sleek style dresses during Fashion Week.
Weaknesses: She overthinks and overdesigns. Her Grammy outfit featured unflattering brown pants along with a red dress. It's questionable whether she's as talented as Jay McCarroll.
Kara on why she should win: "I have been very consistent throughout the competition. Along with having sexy and beautiful designs, I feel that we should be judged with how we performed overall, as a team, as a leader, under pressure, because that's all part of being a designer."
Her chances: Good. She has won four challenges out of nine total.