Lifetime Television
Annie Barrett
January 15, 2010 AT 09:41 PM EST

Project Runway

TV Show
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen
Current Status
In Season

Welcome back to the runway, design-uhs! You all look sophisticated yet youthful, elegant with a hint of punk rock and an exquisitely hand-sewn overlay of the avant garde. Michael Kors wants you at his next garden party. Last night’s season 7 premiere ofProject Runway served up a frantic walk in the park, many opportunities to closely inspect Heidi Klum’s honey-colored lowlights, and a classic ”Show us who you are as a designer” challenge for this season’s crop of promising contestants.

You may have noticed I’m not Missy Schwartz. Your regular Project Runway recapper is still on vacation with her fierce French husband, traipsing around the globe in conflicting patterns and textures. I apologize on her behalf for her misguided set of priorities. She’ll be back on recap duty next week, so just grind your teeth and smile politely. Pretend you’re guest judge Nicole Richie in the presence of a drawling Southern lady named Anthony. It will all be over soon.

I’m positive this is going to be a good season. It has to be: After the three-month dental appointment from hell we endured last fall, our expectations have never been lower! Heidi is TV-pregnant again, Tim’s really psyched about the new HP technology he gets to promote, and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are not going anywhere. Both will be leashed to their director’s chairs by a sparkly chain of whichever jewel tone Heidi is really into that week. And best of all: We’re back in NYC, concrete jungle where dreams are maaaaaade of! There’s nothing Anthony can’t coo…. Let’s hear it for New York! It cannot be disputed that the concept and physical presence of Tim Gunn simply makes more sense when he’s in front of a proper skyline. Not to mention, ”Parsons School of Design” rolls off of Tim’s tongue much more comfortably than ”Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and Wide Open Spaces and Too Much Light Makes the Timmy Go Blind.”

Challenge time. There were reams of fabric draped all over Central Park (audible gasp!) and my first thought was that these would make beautiful blankets for homeless people. But no: The designers had to employ a No Fabric Left Behind policy as they raced to collect their wares in three minutes ”like fat people at an open buffet in Vegas,” according to Emilio. He ended up winning the challenge, so his instinct to make a beeline for the jumbo shrimp cocktail and marinated flank steak of fabrics worked out well for him. Ironically, the best audio/visual moment from the park was when Tim said ”I’m giving you your first opportunity to edit” and the camera cut to Emilio clutching a fairly hideous green print (that he didn’t use) while a scary, Lost-like sound effect hinted at doom. Ping couldn’t figure out how to unfurl a fabric panel, giving the normals their first chance to gape at her in disbelief. Silly Ping. You need to unfurl it so it can go in your Mood bag.

NEXT: Janeane becomes the (drama) queen of the workroom

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