Project Runway Claire

Project Runway Verdict: Was Claire Found Guilty of Cheating?

Heads up: This article spoils the outcome of Project Runway‘s (alleged) cheating controversy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

The first 15 minutes of Thursday’s Project Runway were so hectic, they made last week’s Buitendorp battle feel like a casual game of Checkers.

Michael stood his ground, insisting that Claire “has a retractable ruler that she uses to measure [garments] in her apartment,” but the judges weren’t initially receptive to his complaints. Yolanda Foster even questioned why he spoke up in the first place, asking, “Are you a participant on this show? Or a judge?”

“I can honestly go through every single look that Claire created throughout this season and tell you exactly where that reference comes from,” Michael said. “It becomes the point where it’s not only a point of inspiration, but a direct design of stuff that they own.”

To be fair, Michael’s legitimate concern over the fairness of the competition was being overshadowed by Margarita’s ongoing paranoia. She told Heidi Klum that Claire’s latest top looked “exactly” like the asymmetrical design that won her a previous challenge, to which Klum (correctly) responded, “You’re not the first one to invent that, either.”

Ultimately, it was decided that Claire did not copy Margarita’s top — it was, as Tim Gunn said, a “total non-issue” — and Batani, as the designer with the lowest score from last week’s competition, was eliminated.

However, the accusations of at-home measuring required further investigation — and Gunn wasted no time getting the truth out of Claire. After the suspect confirmed that she did have a measuring tape at the apartment, Gunn asked point-blank, “Is it true to that you’ve been measuring garments in your room?” Claire admitted to measuring one tank top, as well as the crotch of a pair of pants, to which Gunn responded, “We must rescind your win and send you home.”

And just like that, the other shoe twin had dropped. Gunn declared that Batani would return to the competition, and that Brandon’s design would be featured on the new line of Dixie Cups.

“I’m very regretful that I even considered holding onto something I shouldn’t have had,” Claire said in her exit confessional. “Project Runway has been something I wanted to be a part of since I watched it when I was in my early teens. These are the worst possible circumstances to leave this competition. But that’s how my story’s going to end.”

Michael immediately tried to make nice with Claire, telling her that this was never his “intention,” but she brushed off his empty apology. (Come on, Michael, this is exactly what you wanted to happen. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have spoken up in the first place. As Lisa Rinna — or any number of her fellow Real Housewives — would say, “Own it!”)

Click here for our full recap of tonight’s episode. Plus, your thoughts on Claire’s elimination? Drop ’em in a comment below.