Project Runway is celebrating its “sweet 16” this year, and much like a teenager, the season has been a roller coaster ride of emotions — the height of which was when a designer was accused of copying designs and cheating in episode 9.

EW caught up with host Heidi Klum to ask how the unfolding drama affected judging that episode. “I have to judge them by their clothes,” Klum explains. “My job is not to look so much for the gossip and what happens behind the scenes that we don’t see.”

And there was quite a bit the judges didn’t see. Margarita Alvarez and Michael Brambila had drawn attention on the runway to Claire Buitendorp’s copying, but backstage they revealed more to Tim Gunn; they claimed Buitendorp had a measuring tape in the apartment, which is against the show’s rules.

Klum says that the designers are always “super nice” when they’re in front of the judges and don’t want to throw one another under the bus — which allows the judges to base their decisions on designs alone. “I really purely want to just judge on what they’ve done and what they’ve put there on the runway,” she says.

In the end, Klum, judges Zac Posen and Nina Garcia, and guest judges Yolanda Hadid and Sophia Stallone selected Buitendorp as the winner of the Dixie challenge, which came along with a $25,000 prize. But after following up with Buitendorp and learning she indeed had a tape measure outside the workroom, mentor Tim Gunn asked her to leave the competition.

Buitendorp’s win and prize money were revoked; fellow designer Brandon Kee’s print was selected for printing at Dixie.

Project Runway airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

—Additional reporting by Maureen Lee Lenker

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.

  • TV Show
  • 16
  • 186
stream service