‘Project Runway’ recap: Claire gets confronted for cheating

After weeks of waiting to see the much-teased Project Runway season 16 scandal, it all came down to a simple measuring tape.

Episode 9 started right where last week left off, with Michael backstage speaking to the crew. His initial reaction is to bolt, but when a producer asks him if he will talk to anybody, they call in the big Gunn. Michael explains to Tim that he feels this win lacks fairness.

On stage, Yolanda is asking Claire if she got into a fight with Michael, and she’s clueless, stuck in a shocked emoji face. Then Margarita decides that she needs to leave the stage, too. Backstage, she backs up what Michael is saying — that this isn’t about them not liking her look, or even the fact that she’s copying other people’s designs.

Batani finally reveals to the confused judges that there was a “situation” with Claire’s top, to which Claire exclaims, “Did she think I knocked off her top from the last challenge?” while still very confused. Kenya is mouthing, “You did!” at the sky, and I’m just giddy watching this all play out.

After discussing things with Tim, Margarita is starting to realize it wasn’t the time or the place for her reaction or Michael’s, so she heads back out to the runway. Michael explains to Tim that he’s seen Claire has a retractable ruler in the apartment and she’ll write notes on paper or her hands outside of the workroom. Tim says he’ll investigate but Michael needs to get back out there.

With everyone back on the runway, they start to hash out what’s going on: Michael says that he ran off because “I couldn’t stand here and listen to a win that I did not feel was well deserved.” Guest judge extraordinaire Yolanda Hadid says, “Are you a judge in this show or are you a participant?”

Heidi tries to shut it down, though, by saying that it’s not against the rules to borrow from one another; they just aren’t allowed to use the internet. “There is no need for internet when you brought the pieces you’re ripping off,” Michael spouts off. Yolanda tells all the designers they should focus on bettering themselves and forget about other people. Seriously, let’s give this lady a permanent seat among the judges!

Anyway, Heidi reiterates that Claire won because of her print and how she used it. Plus, she wins $25,000. But Claire says she doesn’t care about the win because she’s so frustrated that people think she’s been ripping off her own clothes. She’s so caught off guard and feels like she was hit by a truck. (She and Shawn do seem to live in their own world, so it’s really not surprising to me that this all comes as a shock to her.)

Claire is sent backstage, and Kenya, Kentaro, and Margarita follow her shortly after. Margarita is upset by how the situation exploded and clearly starting to feel regret. In the waiting room, she tells Claire, “At the end of the day, it was a print challenge, and you had a beautiful print,” and then stares at the floor.

On the runway, Heidi tells Michael he’s safe, and he heads back to the waiting room. Batani is sent home, but when she gets back to the room, no one even acknowledges her. Michael is apologizing to Claire for how he handled it. She wishes he would have talked to her about it and feels personally attacked. Michael tries to explain that he’s just overly passionate about design and wants everyone to play fair. And then Claire outs herself.

Claire admits that she measured a tank top for the Good and Evil challenge, and Teacher Amy points out that that means she has a tape measure at home, which is against the rules. Margarita reminds Claire that they’re not allowed to have tape measures, pens, or paper outside the workroom.

Everyone is still ignoring Batani’s loss when Tim walks in and has this exchange with Claire:

“First things first: Claire, is it true that you’ve had a measuring tape in your room?”
“I have a measuring tape.”
“Is it true that you’ve been measuring garments in your room?”
“I have measured a tank top and I have measured the crotch of a pair of pants.”
“All right, Claire, we must rescind your win and send you home.”
(Recap continued on page 2)