The ninth episode of Project Runway Season 16 started off with a bang when designer Claire Buitendorp was disqualified for cheating. Though the shocking moment was teased during the premiere in August, it played out far more dramatic than we could have ever imagined!
The craziness began during a judging session when designer Michael Brambila walked off stage in a fit of emotion after Heidi Klum announced Claire as the winner of that week's challenge (and a $25,000 prize!) "This has never happened in the history of the show," mentor and overall saint Tim Gunn said. Michael doubled down on his frustrations backstage, telling producers, "I came to play fair and there's no fairness in this game."
Though Claire played dumb on the runway, the other designers — namely Michael and Margarita Alvarez — confronted her in the green room afterwards. There it was revealed that the contestants had seen the Michigan native and her twin sister Shawn (who was eliminated the challenge before) using a measuring tape in the hotel room to measure their own clothes, which would then be used as a reference in the workroom.
When Tim asked Claire point blank whether she ever used a measuring tape behind closed doors, the 27-year-old admitted that she had. Tim then announced that her actions were considered cheating and disqualified her from the show. Her $25,000 prize was also rescinded. There was no replacement winner, but designer Batani-Khalfani was spared elimination.
The twins have yet to comment on the scandal publicly, but plenty of viewers voiced their opinions on the girls' joint Instagram account. "Cheater. Your indignant attitude when you get called out and busted is nauseating. You both suck, indeed," one commenter wrote, while another said, "These girls cheated from day one. They felt entitled because they were twins. Shawn was completely useless without Claire and Claire was knocking off everyone’s outfits."
Project Runway airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on Lifetime.