Nicole Richie Project Runway Guest Judge Season 7

Nicole Richie guest judges on "Project Runway" premiere. Photo: MyLifetime.com

"Project Runway" returned to New York City in high style last night, invigorating the reality competition with the urban energy we found missing during its Season 6 pit stop in sprawling Los Angeles.

Our premiere night verdict: "It worked."

Here are some highlights in case you missed:

The Designers: We already have the real characters sewn up. An early favorite? Alabama designer Anthony Williams, 28, who aspires to costume Miss USA and Miss Universe "but not Miss America." He immediately won us over with his brief life history, "It is hell being the black gay guy in the ghetto."

Also intriguing is out there Ping Wu, a 33-year-old Chicago physical therapist, who likes to act as her own fit model, "If it looks good on me, it will look good on other people." We'll see.

Is there a Christian Siriano in the bunch? Too soon to tell, but we'll be paying attention to 37-year-old designer Seth Aaaron Henderson, the first guy to check into the Atlas Apartments. He aspires to be an icon, "like Dior." Um, that's all?

The Challenge: Designer Mentor Tim Gunn meets the designers in Central Park, where bolts of fabric have been heaped on benches and piled on the ground. The designers get scant minutes to scramble, grab and edit their choices down to five fabrics. Then its off to the workroom to create a garment that reflects their design aesthetic.

The Workroom Entertainment: Wu. Is she crazy-talented or just plain crazy? And Williams... He may be funnier than Season 4 fan favorite Chris March.

The Runway Show: Produces top looks by Henderson, Wu and confident New York City costume designer Emilio Sosa, 43. The bottom three is comprised of Williams, Jesus Estrada, 21, and Christiane King, 29 of Los Angeles by way of the Ivory Coast.

The Guest Judge: Nicole Richie. Wait, are we back in LA? Nope. She's just there to plug her new clothing line.

The Winner: Sosa, for an intricate, yet simple dress praised by the judges for being pretty and wearable.

Who's Out: Christiane King, whose sheath with draped inlays was criticized for poor construction and fabric choice. "We feel you don't know who you are as a designer," was judge/host Heidi Klum's parting comment.

The Prize for Best Line By a Judge: Goes to designer Michael Kors, for his critique of Estrada's failed attempt at couture evening wear. "It's like a crocodile trunk exploded on an evening gown."

Noteworthy: They top three designers are thirty-plus, leaving us to wonder if this season could produce a middle-aged winner, an interesting outcome after the young, female dominated Season 6.

What We're Worried About: Klum's statement to Access Hollywood that she expects Season 8 to be filmed in Los Angeles. "We like to change it up and go back and forth," she told the show. Say it isn't sew!!!!!