Clarissa Cruz
January 10, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Desperate Housewives and The O.C. may be the series most likely to inherit Sex and the City‘s trendsetting crown, but the styles created by the designer wannabes of Bravo’s Project Runway are fast making it the show closest to Sex‘s fashion-forward heart. The reality series pits aspiring designers against each other in creative challenges (e.g., making a dress using only items from a grocery store). And the results (a kicky frock made out of shower curtains) are surprising even supermodel host Heidi Klum. ”They have been sitting in their basements making amazing things,” she says of the gifted unknowns. ”And now they have a chance to show them to an audience.”

And sell them. Designer Wendy created a sheath for a challenge in which the winner’s piece would be produced by Banana Republic; it sold out on the store’s website by 7 a.m. the day after the Dec. 15 episode aired. Other creations — Jay’s ”Chrysler Building” dress, Kara’s yellow party frock — are up for a charity auction via the show’s website. Also available: Austin’s infamous ”cornhusk” dress. ”I hope it’s not decomposing!” says Bravo programming VP Frances Berwick. ”I think it should be framed. Or sprayed with some chemical.” For those who prefer their fashion nonorganic, trendy NYC boutique 30Vandam is carrying some of the designers’ wares. Reality show contestants who may actually succeed at something other than being reality show contestants? That’s hot.

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