Maye Musk is having a moment – and she’s relishing every single minute of it. A mere 18 hours after her son, Tesla founder Elon Musk, launched the formidable Falcon Heavy rocket into the sky, the 69-year-old model and mother of three is seated at a photo studio in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, wearing a plush bathrobe while getting pampered by a full-fledged glam squad. She’s here to shoot a fall campaign for evening wear label Sachin & Babi, after being handpicked as its new face by designers Sachin Ahluwalia and Babi Ahluwalia.
“We were at the CFDA Awards last year, and out of the corner of my eye, I see this beautiful lady,” Babi said. Indeed, with her towering frame and pristinely coiffed white hair, it’s hard not to notice Musk. When she talks, every sentence is punctuated by a laugh that’s so joyful and unapologetically genuine, it will make you want to hang around her orbit to soak up her innate positivity. “Her personality is so upbeat,” Sachin adds. “It’s so apparent that she’s happy and loving life. It’s infectious.”
Musk has every reason to be sublimely happy. This year alone, she fronted a DL1961 ad alongside Emily Ratajkowski and became a brand ambassador for CoverGirl. And let’s not forget her cameo in Beyoncé’s “Haunted” music video before that. “It’s so special to still be cast at this stage in my life,” Musk said. Scanning a rack of Sachin & Babi’s latest collection, a maelstrom of sequins and flowy silhouettes, she compliments the clothes for their high-glamour aesthetic. “The looks are very much mother of the bride, which I’ve worn a lot of—besides being mother of the groom a few times!”
Born in Canada and having grown up in South Africa, Musk got her modeling start at the ripe age of 15. “I was the youngest girl on the runway,” she said. “Then, when I turned 21, I was considered really old, so I got married and had three kids in three years.” (Her other son, Kimbal, is a tech entrepreneur and her daughter, Tosca, is a director and producer.) After returning to work at age 28, casting agents dubbed her the oldest model in Johannesburg.
An early precursor to the multi-hyphenate models of today, Musk is also a registered dietitian with two master’s degrees. “I was a science nerd who thought I had good taste in clothing,” she said. She owes her newly refined sartorial taste to her best friend and stylist Julia Perry, but her wellness tips are all her own. “My number one rule is to snack every two hours, because if you eat too much you get tired, and if you eat too little you get tired. Coffee helps, too.”
For her current ascension, Musk credits social media, and Instagram in particular. “It’s basically my model portfolio,” she said. “It’s done really well for me. It’s why I’m here today.” That’s not to say that there haven’t been some growing pains with the millennial-favorite digital platform. “Someone called me a GOAT,” she said. “At first I was offended, but then I learned that it stands for Greatest of All Time.”
In April, Musk will ring in her seventh decade, fittingly, at a blowout birthday party planned by her three children. Work-wise, she hopes to keep the momentum going. “I think I’ll just carry on doing what I’m doing,” she said. “I want to become a role model for women and men who fear aging. I want to work toward being accepted as somebody special rather than being ignored.” She has no plans to retire anytime soon, either. “My mother stopped working at 96. Maybe then I’ll slow down.”
By the looks of it, Musk’s career is soaring higher than her son Elon’s SpaceX rocket.