Designer twins Shawn and Claire Buitendorp created a lot of buzz. on Project Runway Season 16 for working together. In perhaps the biggest scandal to rock Project Runway in years, Claire was sent home by Tim Gunn for allegedly using a tape measure in her hotel room.
Claire spoke about the cheating scandal that had her immediately disqualified from the competition, describing it a “mistake.” What is designer Claire’s side of the story, and what are the twins up to next?
Speaking to her hometown paper, the Lansing State Journal, Claire Buitendorp insists that she had absently put the tape measure into her pocket when she was busy working in the workroom with the other designers. When she returned to the apartment, it was disposed of in a “matter of hours.”
She insists she did not use the tape measure when in the room.
“Once I got rid of it, I didn’t think it would be a big deal,” Claire explained.
But that is not what happened.
Everything fell apart when she was accused of copying other designer’s clothes while being judged by Heidi Klum, Zac Posen, Nina Garcia, and guest judge Yolanda Hadid. Although the judges told the complaining designers that they needed to focus on their own work, it was Michael’s decision to walk off the stage that sealed Claire’s fate on Project Runway.
Backstage, Tim Gunn got involved, and it all blew up for Claire, who was actually the winner of the Dixie cup challenge. When Tim asked Claire if she had her tape measure at the apartment, she said yes. Then, she was asked to leave by Tim Gunn. Claire was disqualified for cheating.
Instead of winning $25,000 and having her design imprinted on a Dixie cup, she wound up going home frustrated that she did not show at New York Fashion Week.
As for the accusation that she was “ripping off” her own clothing designs at the apartment, Claire explains that everyone does that very thing. More than likely, she either made the clothes she wore or her personal garments are of the same aesthetic as her own designs.
“Of course you’re going to seek inspiration from things around you.”
Claire pointed out that her fellow Project Runway contestants did the very same thing. Although she did not point it out, despite complaints at the confessional that Claire and Shawn worked closely together, “brothers” Brandon and Kentaro have been actively working together all season. Any Project Runway fan can look to each season and witness designers helping other designers.
Although contestants get the rules, fans of the show are not given specifics on what is considered cheating. In past seasons, fans have watched designers measure their own garments in the workroom, and use those very measurements for their original designs. Designers have helped each other.
It appears that using designer tools away from the workroom is the big no-no. In Season 3, designer Keith Michael was disqualified for having patterns in his room, so it appears that having a mere tape measure would also constitute a disqualification.
What is next for the twins, Claire and Shawn, that Heidi Klum described as “very, very, naughty”?
The twins, who had interned together with designer Betsey Johnson, at age 21, and have even designed for Katy Perry, have big plans. Shawn explains that they plan on taking their brand, Shock and Awww, beyond their online store to retail stores around the United States.
“I think we’re going to bring Shock and Awww to some major metropolitan areas.”
The twins, who had previously competed on the VH1 show Twinning, winning the competition, and going home with an astounding $222,222.22, which they put into their business. But the failure for either Claire or Shawn to win Project Runway does not scare them from competing on any other reality show. Shawn wants to compete on another show.
“Truthfully, getting out in front of people is what’s going to help us be successful.”
[Featured Image by Lifetime Television]