‘Project Runway’: Was Samantha Rei robbed, or did she deserve to be eliminated?

Even though the “Project Runway” season 16 contestants — and our readers too — think twins Claire Buitendorp and Shawn Buitendorp have helped each other too much and gotten too much slack from the judges, it was Samantha Rei who was sent home instead in this week’s episode, “Models Off Duty.” Granted, the judges don’t get to see the goings-on in the workroom before each runway show, but this time Tim Gunn made a point of mentioning that high-scorer Shawn wouldn’t have had such a good design if low-scorer Claire hadn’t put her own design on hold to help construct Shawn’s look. Despite feeling uneasy about Claire’s decision to help Shawn at her own expense, the judges kept both Buitendorp and sent home Rei instead.

But Rei’s design wasn’t that bad. Guest judge Georgina Chapman said, “This feels a little verging on costume for me. It’s not speaking to me in an exciting, fresh, modern way.” Nina Garcia thought, for the second week in a row, that Rei designed a more impressive dress for herself than for her model. And Zac Posen was also uninspired by the look; he wanted to see the “evolution” of her style, instead of a familiar version of her usual sensibility.

However, Heidi Klum said, “The work you put into this is insane, I can see it from here.” And guest judge Kelsea Ballerini loved the detail work. To paraphrase an old saying, I don’t know much about fashion, but I know what I like, and I liked Rei’s design. It may not have been the best look of the night — like the judges, I quite admired challenge winner Kentaro Kameyama‘s grungy Japanese-inspired look — but it was by far the most sophisticated, best constructed design that has been eliminated all season. It seems unfair that Rei was eliminated while Shawn Buitendorp celebrated a high score when Tim Gunn and most of the other contestants recognized that Shawn might not have had much of a design at all were it not for her sister’s sacrifice.

What do you think? Did the judges get it right by eliminating Rei? Should Tim Gunn have saved her? Vote in our poll below to let us know what you think.

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