We should just grow up. It's nonsense to feel aggrieved after all these years. Your mother had every right to insist on sensible school shoes rather than knee-high boots with clunky heels. You were a dizzy pre-teen for goodness sake. Let it go.

Don't bristle every time your mother grimaces at your cool retro jacket. Forget the time she forced you to wear the hippy fringed suede jacket when your friends were all in cute pink dresses. Erase the day she made you wear plaits and that hideous green headband.

Thankfully, you mellow with age and a family of your own.

As one mother of three says: "I've finally stopped hearing her voice in my head and I never tell my daughter what to wear for school in the morning. Designer Hazel Milligan, chef Kate Fay and fashion designer Mala Brajkovic share their mothers' best advice.


When Mala Brajkovic was 8, her mother Linda started a clothing label called C.A.J.E or Children of the Anti-junk Establishment. Brajkovic used to help screen-print the T-shirts and sew the seams of the tie-dyed puffball skirts.

Brajkovic's winter collection, now in her Vulcan Lane shop, is called Cyborgs rule, ok! Funny how you never shake off your mother's fashion influence.

Still, her mother's wacky style has done no harm.

The 30-year-old designer has just returned from Australian Fashion Week where her edgy collection scored a major international client and lots of kudos.

Right now, what are you thinking about your mother?

I wish she lived in Auckland so I could see her.

What's the best advice she gave you?

When I was a teenager I guess she knew it was a waste of breath to give me advice as I'd never listen and as I got older I suppose she trusted me to do the right thing. She definitely told me things like, "Don't leave school".

Have you ignored that sensible advice?

Well, I left school and moved in with my boyfriend. I wish I had stayed at school longer.

What's your favourite way to spend a day with your mum?

Taking her shopping for clothes and having her to stay at my place and cook lots of food for me.

What do you love to hate about your mother?

She is a terrible hoarder - she might say collector.

What do you admire most about her?

Mum always had an open-door policy for our friends and anyone that needed a meal, a bed and someone to talk to. Mum doesn't have much, but what she has she shares with everyone. My brother died of cancer when he was 15 and somehow mum still finds the strength to help families with cancer kids. She runs art classes, also. She's the most emotionally giving person I know.

Be honest, are you anything like your mum?

Half of me is so like my mum it's scary, the other half is the complete opposite. My sister is probably more like my mum than I am.

What's the strangest outfit your mother made you wear?

It was only in the hair department that we had issues. When I was about 9, she made me get a fringe cut that was severely asymmetric and had two long pieces coming out of the shorter side. My friends' mums used to say, "Oh, your fringe is a bit crooked dear", and I'd have to try to explain that it was just cool and asymmetric.

How has your mother influenced your personal style?

From about ages 3 to 7 I thought my mum was just so beautiful with all her fancy clothes. Then I realised mum dressed a bit differently to everyone else's mums. I was embarrassed about the bangles, massive sunglasses, shiny leggings, stilettos and crazy big hair. By the time I realised she was a hot mum, she was settled into beach life and wearing gardening shoes. Mum has hugely influenced my personal style and love of clothes.

What fashion advice should mothers pass on to daughters?

I wouldn't pass on any. I remember mum used to let my little sister wear whatever she wanted into town. Mum's blue stockings pulled up to her neck, with nothing else on but jellies on her feet and red lipstick. I'd be dying of embarrassment but mum would say: "I never told you how to dress Mala".

What advice would you give to daughters buying fashion for their mothers?

Stay away from the "World's Best Mum" T-shirts - may as well buy her a number plate that says "4 mum".


It's good to see a mother who proudly holds the domestic fort, teatowel in hand. Actually, Hazel Milligan is wearing the teatowel, having transformed it into a sassy A-line skirt. That's worthy of domestic goddess status, although Milligan says her Dishy Design (available from Pauanesia or email dishydesign@xtra.co.nz) range combines beauty and function in equal dollops. Made from a selection of retro 70s teatowels, the range features hats, bags, cushion covers and men's and women's clothing. Milligan studied furniture design at Unitec before finding domestic bliss in her range of quirky Kiwiana designs.

"I like the element of surprise, the process of recreating something new from something pre-existing. And they are the best-looking fabrics available."

Milligan's mother, Marie Quinn, is a financial controller in the city. Hazel is a stay-at-home-mum with a studio in the back garden. Her three children are approving. Son Oscar, 12, shares the space and Pearl, 14, says: "My mother has gone out there and done it - and virtually by herself which I think is the biggest inspiration". Leo, 6, just likes the fact she makes things nice and strong. What a mum.

Right now, what are you thinking about your mother?

She is very generous, loving and sometimes bossy.

What's the best advice she gave you?

How to hand-wash and dry woollens - use warm soapy water, immerse garment and gently squeeze and swish without rubbing or soaking, just in and out. Squeeze out excess water without distorting the shape. Lay out a dry, clean towel. Place the garment flat on the towel, then roll up the towel with the woollen inside and push down once or twice. This soaks up excess water. Finally, put another dry clean towel on a flat surface and lay your woollen out flat but not stretched. You can form it into the shape you want it to dry in.

Have you deliberately ignored that?

Hasn't everyone done it at least once and shrunk a precious jumper, never to be restored?

What's your favourite way to spend a day with your mum?

With my kids, along with nice food and a bit of an activity.

What do you love to hate about her?

Seven times out of 10 she's late. Occasionally she is so late she does not turn up at all.

What do you admire most about her?

When problem-solving she has demonstrated and encouraged tenacity.

What advice would you give kids about creative design?

Anything is possible. Be open to the possibilities and then determinedly set out to find the solution. Look to nature for ideas. And never diss anyone else's designs.

Any tips for a cheap, creative gifts for Mother's Day?

Garden-picked or fruit-shop roses with a teatowel and ribbon wrap. Freshly-baked-with-love date and orange scones packaged in a teatowel. Or the classic breakfast in bed with a crisp new teatowel as the traycloth.


Kate Fay's mother, Bev, was a stay-at-home mum with a flair for entertaining. She whipped up fabulous dinners on Sunday nights, and food was always the focal point at parties and family get-togethers.

Her daughter now cooks for 100 people every night at Cibo restaurant, but she still reckons her mum's cooking tastes better. Still, the critics rave about Fay's culinary skills as being a near-religious experience. In 2004 she was voted outstanding chef in the Lewisham Awards and Viva's favourite chef. Fay is also co-owner of Rice and co-author of Food with Attitude, where she offers a challenge to her readers: "If you don't know how to fry an egg, the rest of the book will be of little use to you."

With a reputation as an adventurer in the kitchen, Fay says working at her mother's milkbar taught her how to operate under pressure. Son Alex won't be following in her footsteps: "I see the hours that she works and know that it's hard work, but I love going into the Cibo kitchen."

Right now, what are you thinking about your mother?

My mum, Bev Fay, is truly an amazing, caring and gentle woman. She is always there when we need her, with advice, encouragement and support. I know if I leave my washing on the dining-room table long enough she will fold and iron it. Her ironed chef's jacket always looks so much better than mine. It is tough being a solo mum, and without Mum I wouldn't have had such a great career.

What's the best advice she gave you?

Two things stick in my mind. Never say anything about anybody else's kids until you see how yours turn out. And, act like a lady even if it hurts.

When do you deliberately ignore that sensible advice?

I never act like a lady on a busy Friday night at Cibo when Jeremy Turner insists on seating 100 people in half an hour and taking all their orders at once.

What's your favourite way to spend a day with your mum?

Having a glass of wine on the deck at the family holiday home.

What do you love to hate about your mother?

Mum is so organised and tidy and does things so quickly and efficiently. I wish I could be like that.

What gems of wisdom do you cherish?

The encouragement to travel. I am so glad I took that advice.

Be honest, are you anything like your mum?

I hope so - yes I am, and I'm glad. However when I am at work it's a totally different story. I am definitely not like my mother.

Favourite recipes from mum?

Nothing is as good as mum's jams, sauces and chutneys. We even have her recipes in the cookbook. My great-aunt Mona always made her famous sponge drops for family functions. Mum has now perfected this art, something that I have yet to do. But I make nana's scones really well.

The best way to pamper your mum?

Cook for your mother - she will love you for it.

Any tips for a Mother's Day gift?

You can't beat the chocolate brownie recipe that's in my cookbook.