The industry vet opens up about diversity, nutrition and how immigrants like herself impact the global fashion economy.
If you’ve been paying attention to the New York Fashion Week crowd, chances are you’ve laid eyes on ivory-haired beauty Maye Musk. The 69-year-old model, dietician and yes, mother of Elon Musk, who lives in Los Angeles, has been working as a model in the fashion world for 5 decades, but this season she’s been especially busy, not only hitting the runway for Concept Korea — a show which this season celebrated the works of Korean designers Younhee Park and Lee Chung Chung — but also the front row of Rebecca Minkoff, where she posed with pal Coco Rocha, and nearly every red-carpet, from Elle, E! and IMG’s NYFW kick-off party to Harper’s Bazaar‘s Icons party, where she was photographed with industry newcomer Halima Aden.
We caught up with Musk in between her many events to chat about longevity of her career, the state of the modern modeling world and the repercussions of a more global fashion world.
When you started modeling, did you ever imagine you’d be hitting the catwalk in your 60s, or that there would even be opportunities for women who aren’t the typical age range of 16-25?
Not at all. That would’ve been considered very silly in the 1960s. When I started modeling at 15, I was told it would all be over by 18. So, this is a complete surprise, a happy surprise at 69.
There’s been a lot of talk about models’ health lately with LVMH and Kering’s joint charter requiring girls to bring doctors’ notes to castings for their shows. Do you see this as a legitimate means of keeping girls healthy?
Most models have a specific body type that is naturally lean. However, to maintain a size 0, is very stressful. The fashion industry has to go to extreme measures to keep young girls healthy. A good start, would be to make runway clothes in sizes 2 to 4, instead of 0 to 2.
As a nutritionist, how do you think can health industry professionals work together with the modeling industry in the most effective way?
In my dietetics practice, which I had for 45 years, many young girls were sent to me by model agencies for weight loss and eating disorders. Some were swimsuit models, with perfect figures, but needed to lose ten pounds for runway shows. That was very sad. They would have to eat perfectly to lose weight, which is really stressful when you are young.
Why did you decide to walk in today’s show?
In Korea, my modeling photos had gone viral after a beautiful fashion segment for Vogue Korea. I was absolutely thrilled to wear clothes by two young Korean designers.
We’re celebrating Korean fashion today. What are your thoughts on the industry becoming more global, and how our government is handling and reacting to immigrants?
Korean fashion is very exciting and global. They are willing to mix textures, shapes, colors, and then add an extra twist. The fashion industry does not have borders, which is very exciting for everyone. My family and I are immigrants. I was born Canadian, and it was really difficult for us to enter the USA. Even though my father was born in Minnesota, it still took me 11 years with many references from universities and clients, to become a US citizen.
Tell me about the statement shirt you were wearing on the runway.
Chung Chung Lee wanted me to wear this statement shirt to open the show, as Perfect Imperfect means there is beauty to be found in imperfection.
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