Because last week’s episode of “Project Runway” left us hanging with twins Claire Buitendorp and Shawn Buitendorp poised to face off against one another, the stage was immediately set for Thursday’s new episode to be one of the series most dramatic yet. With one hour to create a look without helping one another, Claire got right to work while Shawn struggled to move beyond the pressure of the situation. Breaking down into tears within 15 minutes, Shawn stopped working and decided to concede the challenge to her sister. So, with the blessing of host Tim Gunn and the judges panel, Shawn exited the competition. But that was just the start of the episode, with a whole other hour and a half to unfold. Read our recap below of season 16, episode 8, “Client on the Go,” to find out how the remaining designers fared in this week’s challenge.
To introduce this week’s challenge, Tim brought Teresa Bossong, brand building leader for Dixie, into the workroom to meet the designers. The challenge, as described by Tim, was to design for a “woman on the go,” each of whom is a friend or family member of a series crew member, using a custom print created by the designer. In addition, Dixie would not only use the custom print of the winning design on a special edition to-go cup, but promised a $25,000 prize to the designer.
During consultations with their clients, Claire and Margarita Alvarez had visions that didn’t quite jibe with their clients’. Claire’s client came out of the gate saying she didn’t like patterns, and Margarita’s preferred geometric shapes, which opposed Margarita’s hopes for something floral. Batani-Khalfani, Kenya Freeman and Ayana Ife all had more optimistic connections to their clients, who matched their tastes in terms of color, shape and style.
Tim’s critiques this week were handled in the presence of the clients, giving them an opportunity to help “coach” the designers on what direction the look should be headed. Tim told Kentaro Kameyama that he didn’t see enough of him as a designer in what he had created so far, and his client agreed that it was too simple as it was. Margarita’s decision to hand-dye the print that she had created to tone down the bright colors was a hit with both Tim and her client, but Batani’s print failed to live up to her client’s expectations for something colorful and vibrant. Claire’s look reminded Tim of something he’d seen from her in a prior challenge so he urged her to make it different, but Margarita felt irritated because the design was actually something she felt was stolen from a design she had created last week. Margarita’s feelings were shared by some of the other designers, namely Michael Brambila, who also recognized the pants of Claire’s look as reminiscent of something she personally owned.
Margarita’s preoccupation with Claire’s design resulted in a few mistakes that compromised the vision for her own look, leaving her embarrassed by the finished product. Thankfully, because Margarita won last week she had immunity this week and could not be eliminated, even if her design were to fall in the bottom after judges scores. For the runway show, series judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen were joined by author and former “Real Housewife” Yolanda Hadid and model Sophia Stallone. Based on their scores, Kenya, Kentaro and Claire were on top while Batani, Michael and Margarita fell to the bottom.
Batani’s look made her client feel sexy, but the lack of integration of the print confused the judges. Michael’s low score reflected the bad proportions of the design and Margarita’s worries that she failed to execute it well were echoed by the panel. Kenya’s print was a hit with the judges and contributed to her high score, but the placement of the peplum worried them. Nina and Zac both found Kentaro’s design to be “sublime,” but Heidi provided a less than favorable dissenting opinion. Instead, Heidi preferred Claire’s look, declaring it “perfect from head to toe.”
With only a few minutes left in the episode, Heidi brought the six designers on stage and declared Claire the winner. That decision prompted Michael to walk off stage and retreat backstage, telling a producer that he believes in fairness and that he couldn’t stand by the judges’ decision. At that point, Tim approached Michael to ask him what was wrong while Heidi and the other judges were left bewildered wondering what the drama was about. But how the drama concludes is something we’ll need to wait until next week to find out. Will Michael quit the competition out of his sense of fairness, or will the judges agree with him and rescind Claire’s challenge win?
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s predictions event questions for “Project Runway” #16.08:
Who will be eliminated? Shawn Buitendorp
Who will be in bottom 2, but safe? N/A
Who will win the challenge? Claire Buitendorp
Who will be challenge’s runner-up? N/A
Will Tim Gunn use his save? No
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