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'Project Runway' back in NYC for seventh season

Meet the new cast of

Meet the new cast of "Project Runway" Photo Credit: Handout

THE SHOW "Project Runway"

WHEN | WHERE Tonight at 10 on Lifetime

CATCHING UP Like a cozy, somewhat frayed, albeit designer, bathrobe, "Project Runway" returns for a seventh season overall and a second season on its newish home, Lifetime. Last season was roundly criticized as the show's dullest because it seemed ill-fittingly shot in Los Angeles, and wrapped more than a year before airing due to contract disputes. The winner, New Yorker Irina Shabayeva, was no surprise. This season, the formula remains the same, but, thank heavens, it's back in New York City.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Sixteen designers from near (NYC) and far (China) vie to show their duds at New York Fashion Week, and for spoils, including a spread in Marie Claire magazine, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel, and a cash prize of $100,000 from L'Oreal Paris to start their own businesses. The contestants, as always, are a patchwork quilt of looks and personalities - drama queens, nutsy types, crybabies and egomaniacs, and this season the guys are drowning in shocking amounts of hair product.

Of note so far, Anthony Williams, a laugh riot from Georgia, who incites a mini-hissy fit from Heidi Klum (pregnant and beautiful - she had her baby girl, Lou, in October). Each week, contestants compete in fashion challenges, are mentored by Tim Gunn, and judged by Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia - Kors still brilliant and hilarious, Garcia the consummate pro - both of whom were unfortunately often absent last season due to the location. There's a guest judge, and Nicole Richie, quite competent, is up first.

Klum bids auf Wiedersehen to the worst design each week until the group is whittled down to three semifinalists.

MY SAY Yesterday, Seventh Avenue (aka Fashion Avenue) was temporarily and officially renamed "Project Runway Avenue" in honor of the show's contribution to the fashion industry. It's the first and still the best fashion reality show series and the fact that it's back in New York makes it fit and feel all the better.

BOTTOM LINE It may be

same old/same old - you either love the genre for all its predictability and comfort (like your favorite Prada boots) or will want to leave it. We are of the former mindset.

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