Legion are the women who want to be in the Marni-girl gang these days. On the runway, designer Consuelo Castiglioni's knack for layering up sporty-techno bits and pieces with shiny black PVC and odd shots of bright color and print is pushing this label out in front as one of the most refreshing forces in fashion. Last summer, she simply put sport-leggings under her favorite tunics, and the world ran after her. Now that she's sneaking elements of technical outdoorsy clothing into her wardrobe, the same thing will happen again. One glance at Marni's genius nylon platform-soled ski boots will set off a fan avalanche, guaranteed.

It's partly the designer's talent for striding ahead without breaking continuity that does it. Her Marni girl has often been typecast as an eclectic, original spirit, but Castiglioni's no woolly thinker: She follows her ideas through from one season to the next, and people love her for it. Thus, she's playing with the same sort of shapes, like plain loose tunics and gray parallel pants, but is now mixing them up with nylon T-shirts, neoprene vests, PVC skirts, and down linings, then cinching it all in with a hefty webbing belt. If this sounds a bit of a mess, it's not—the really clever part is that the cheerfully arty charm of Marni carries it all along. This season it's there in the bright, multicolored marbled prints; the color blocking of magenta, royal blue, and green; the shaggy beaver and goat-hair coats. In the end, Marni achieves a unique, offbeat glamour along with a life-enhancing playfulness that is irresistible.