Leighton Meester

Mottled mania ... Leighton Meester jumps on the tie-dye bandwagon.

Tie-dye. You thought you'd safely escaped its patchouli-cloyed clutches in the 60s and survived its acid-edged madness in the early 90s, never to be reminded of that style foible again.

How wrong you were.

The mottled rainbow look is back - and it's back with a vengeance.

Proenza Schouler helps kick off the craze with her spring/summer 2011 show, inspiring a flurry of copycat designs, hitting our stores now. Click for more photos

Dip into the tie-dye craze

Proenza Schouler helps kick off the craze with her spring/summer 2011 show, inspiring a flurry of copycat designs, hitting our stores now.

  • Proenza Schouler helps kick off the craze with her spring/summer 2011 show, inspiring a flurry of copycat designs, hitting our stores now.
  • ALC reimagines tie-dye, elevating it from 60s hippy madness to sophisticated suitable-even-for-work-meetings wear.
  • Chloe Green - heiress to the Tophop empire - chooses floor-length tie-dye.
  • English Rose Perdita Weeks dips into dip-dye - and looks stunning in the elegant two-tone get up.
  • Leighton Meester shows the trend's modern style in its best light - not too little, not too much.
  • Spot on: Actress Leelee Sobieski nails it, combining print and understated tie-dye detailing in New York.
  • Leighton Meester does it again - this time at Vera Wang's February fashion show, a little green dress spruced up with mottling.
  • LA-based designer and fashion maven, Louise Roe, delivers an elegant take on a once-bombastic look, showing us how it's done.
  • The proof is in the pudding: If tie-dye can make it onto the runway, it can make it anywhere. Here at Chanel's Haute-Couture spring/summer 2012 Paris show.
  • Possibly on the bright side, actress Jon Mack goes for a two-toned dip-dyed look - a style that can be pared down with a gentler palette.
  • And, as if further proof were needed, tie-dye's glamour is set in stone by an outing on the red carpet. Thank you, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

This time round, though, the experimental die tricks have smartened their act up, with monochrome palettes, neat dip-dye and understated mottling replacing the visual assault of your average hippie T-shirt.

Stylist Ashleigh Sharman told Life & Style that "it's no surprise that 'tie-dye' was voted worst fashion disaster of the last 50 years; it just conjures up such love or loathe in any avid fashionista - psychedelic anyone?

"But recently we've seen a new twist on that traditional trippy hippie tie-dye with designers referencing ideas of colour graduation and dip dying with prints and bright tones."

So grown-up is the look that it has migrated not only into A-list wardrobes but has been elevated to red carpet glamour.

"It's a much more sophisticated take on the trend, akin to our current love of 'flower power' floral prints, and the fact it is not so overt may give it some extra staying power," said Sharman.

And, she said, blossoming in-roads into prints and graphics are lending themselves to colour-bleeding, giving a new-found edginess and energy to both cuts and colours.

We first saw its latest incarnation on spring/summer 2011 catwalks - Proenza Schouler went full-throttle, sending silk dresses down the catwalk and following up with a series of more street-friendly long-sleeved tees.

Zero Maria Cornejo has combined print with dye art and Shakuhachi dip-dyed floating, tied dresses. ALC has cleverly created a geometric pattern with dye, as neat and prim as anything more typically meeting-friendly.

But it's not only the domain of more elegant fabrics and denim is perhaps the most accessible way to dip into the trend. Elle Macpherson and Rihanna have donned pairs of blue and white dyed jeans, while Olivia Palermo, Poppy Delevigne and Minka Kelly have all been spotted in Paige’s Verdugo tie-dye denim. In Australia, from Supre to Topshop and most self-respecting High Street retailers between, mottled denim is nearby.

A word of caution, though. Don't think about combining the look with flares, long beads or floppy hats. This is modern, sharp, street-driven chic.

Now all over the streets of London, SoHo and Brooklyn, the style is sure to be all over Australia tout de suite - be prepared and shut out thoughts of your first psy-trance party circa 1992. Mad-chester and its acid raves are staying firmly in the past and away from your wardrobes - and so they should.