who would believe at 68 you’d be getting better jobs
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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The fabulous model enjoying

'Who would believe at 68 you’d be getting better jobs

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Arab Today, arab today 'Who would believe at 68 you’d be getting better jobs

Maye Musk arrives at the Rahul Mishra show during Paris Fashion Week
Paris - Arab Today

Paris Fashion Week has just come to an end, but its break-out star wasn’t a teenage model or edgy young designer. Instead, it was Maye Musk, the 68-year-old fashion industry veteran, who proved that age is no barrier to impeccable style. Thanks to a new modelling contract with Gisele’s model agency IMG, Musk found herself sitting on the front row for the first time and being accosted by street-style photographers eager to capture her avant-garde look.

“It was an amazing week,” she says over the phone from her home in Los Angeles, where she has been kept busy since her return. Hours after landing, she was in jeans and trainers planting vegetables at one of the schools that benefits from The Kitchen Community, a charity founded by one of her sons.

Ah, yes – her sons. While Musk has found international fashion fame of late, she’s already known as the mother of Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor who recently announced his ambition to put people on Mars.

Born in Canada in 1948 but raised in South Africa, Musk – who began modelling at 15 – married her high-school sweetheart Errol and trained as a dietician. The couple had three children: Elon, his brother Kimbal (the entrepreneur targeting America’s reliance on fast food) and a daughter, Tosca, a film producer and director. But when they divorced in 1979, their sons opted to live with their father, and Musk found herself as a single mother, struggling to make ends meet.

Modelling helped her do just that – acting as a kind of glorified Saturday job to her dietician’s business. “After I had my third child at 28, I was asked to do runway shows as the token ‘old’ model, showcasing a ‘Mother of the Bride’ look,” she recalls. “At 42, I did my first advert modelling as a grandmother. By then I’d moved to Canada and was the oldest model in the country. But I had three teenagers. I needed to work.”

Musk’s modelling forays have included catalogues and catwalks, as well as cover shoots for everything from fashion magazines to cruise magazines. She also appeared in advertising campaigns for Virgin America and Phillips, “and once, I even played a 90-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.” 

It’s a world away from the modelling assignments Musk is taking on today, after a mutual contact of the agency spotted her on Instagram. “My best friend Julia Perry has been styling me for 26 years, and she said: ‘You have to get on Instagram, every model is on there.’  You don’t think of these things at my age, but social media is the best thing ever,” she says. On the day we speak, a campaign she has worked on for La Ligne, a chic New York-based brand founded by former Vogue editors, is released. It shows her reclining in a bath in luxurious silk trousers and posing in an armchair wearing trainers and tracksuit bottoms. “Who would believe at 68 you’d be getting better jobs?” she asks. “I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that when I started 53 years ago. But it’s just so much fun.”

With her innate elegance and striking silver-grey hair (“I decided when I was 60 I would see what my natural colour was”), it’s easy to see why IMG were so keen. But Musk’s signing is also part of a bigger “greynaissance” happening across the fashion industry, which recognises that there is a huge untapped market of older people with the funds to buy into fashion and beauty.

Caryn Franklin,  fashion commentator and Professor of Diversity in Fashion at Kingston , recently challenged stereotypes about how older people should be represented  by art directing a  film  featuring  74-year-old model Anna-Marie von Ruden  wearing clothes by young designers, as part of The Age of No Retirement initiative.

 “In the film we focus on Anna ’s beautifully lined face and we didn’t retouch anything,” she says of the stills  shoot  captured alongside the film, before citing a study from 2007 that found shoppers are 300 per cent more likely to buy something if they see it in an advert worn by a model who  shares similar appearance  characteristics .  “Other studies  show women want to look good for their age,  but  they don ’t prioritise looking younger,” says Franklin.

It’s a movement that Musk – who says she was considered “ancient” 20 years ago – thinks can only be a positive force. “When I’m on a shoot with teenage models, they feel very inspired when they realise there’s a chance they can model later in life,” she says. “Even after having children.”

Musk has been modelling for five decades, but says that fashion week has idiosyncrasies that now make the job “a huge palava”: “I love walking everywhere, but when you’re in high heels and there are cobbles everywhere and it’s a bit rainy, you get a car. You go from event to event and you change each time – even the hair – because you have to have a different look for the street-style photographers.”

Normally, she mostly lives in jeans, T-shirts and a sun hat (“I never let the sun touch my skin”), but it no doubt helps that she has a wardrobe filled with pieces by designers like Dries van Noten, Lanvin, Carven and The Row to fall back on. 

“In Paris, I wore a Lanvin dress which I’ve had for eight years, but then we added beautiful Swarovski jewellery and an edgier jacket to give it a different look,” says Musk.

In a lighthearted aside that casts light on the fashion industry, she says: “A lot of clothes arrived and many were [US] size zero or size 2. I’m a UK size 8, so I’m considered huuuge.”

What does her billionaire son – ranked the 83rd wealthiest person in the world by Forbes magazine last year – make of the fashion world? “He likes to dress well, he likes good quality, even if it’s just a T-shirt,” she says, before refuting any suggestion that he might have learnt his good taste from her. “I haven’t taught my kids anything,” she says. “They learnt it all themselves.”

Source: Telegraph

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