Maye musk 70 year old model on challenging our beauty preconceptions – vogue australia chicken marsala sauce without wine

The first four words of maye musk’s instagram profile are ‘model for five decades’. Despite being recently tapped as the latest (and oldest) face of beauty heavyweight covergirl, a highlight of the past year on par with the 69-year-old being booked for swarovski’s holiday campaign alongside modelling royalty karlie kloss and naomi campbell, it is clear that she is by no means new to this.

“the assumption is that you’re pretty much done by 20,” says the canadian-born sexagenarian over the phone from los angeles, where she is now based. “I model with so many young models and they feel like they’re nearly done and then they meet me and they say: ‘oh, I can’t believe it, there’s hope for us.’”

In a life lived in three countries (south africa, canada, the US) – with three degrees (including a masters of dietetics and a master of science), her own nutrition business, a marriage, a divorce, three children and 10 grandchildren – modelling has remained a constant.Wanted older


and contrary to the norm for most models, musk’s popularity continued to climb as her age did. “I would model when they wanted me, and as I got older they wanted an older model. I was quite willing to be mother of the bride at 28. I was quite happy to be on the cover of a grandparents’ magazine at 42; I have no ego about that,” she says in a strong south african accent, simultaneously warm and matter of fact. “to me that was work, and if I got paid for it I was happy.”

If there was a pivot point, it is perhaps this: for her 60th birthday, musk quit colouring her naturally white, shoulder-length hair and lopped it into a stylish crop. She soon landed a bevy of campaigns (including one for target, which featured a gigantic billboard in times square, no less), new york magazine and time covers, and even an appearance in beyoncé’s 2013 video for haunted (“I was a white ghost; they put make-up on my face which was blotchy, but I didn’t care, I had this magnificent haute couture gown,” she says, chuckling).Wanted older her now synonymous strands are usually swept straight back, giving her an impressive allure that almost contradicts her affability. Her exquisite bone structure seems to defy gravity and her eyes sparkle a deep sapphire. Whether it’s her enviable posture or beaming smile, there’s a definite air of grandeur about musk that is enhanced by her affection and kindness; the type of woman you might admire in a hotel lobby.

Born in canada, musk’s family uprooted to south africa’s pretoria when she was two. Her parents (her father a chiropractor and her mother a dance teacher) were adventurers and flew a single-engine plane on a 48,000-kilometre journey to australia via the african coast. (“they had a map and they used a compass, can you imagine? I’m horrified when I think about it: they would fly low to read street signs,” she says in disbelief.) musk has three children: elon, the now 46-year-old CEO of tesla and one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs of our time; kimbal, who owns a handful of companies and is an avid campaigner on food and sustainability; and her daughter tosca, a talented filmmaker and founder of passionflix – a netflix of sorts for the romance genre.They wanted like most mothers, musk is quick to praise all of her children for their entrepreneurial success – the smile in her voice when she speaks of them reverberates through the phone line – but it’s her eldest who attracts the most attention. “if somebody says: ‘that’s elon’s mum’, which happens quite a bit, they are usually stunned, sometimes they cry. I’m flattered because, I mean to them, he’s saving the world, they just feel he’s the only hope,” says musk of her son’s growing fan base.

It’s plain to see where her children inherited their entrepreneurial spirit. After she divorced in 1979, musk moved back to her native canada, where she sat exams to be recognised as a dietitian (in 2006 she won the outstanding nutrition entrepreneur award). She affectionately dubs modelling the “frills on top”– the “fun” job she relished to pad out her bank balance while she pursued nutrition and raised her young brood. “I needed a steady income, my bread and butter, which was the nutrition, and then I had the modelling.Their entrepreneurial if I had a modelling job and then it became a poster, it meant that my kids and I could have turkey for christmas dinner, otherwise we had chicken,” says the grandmother of 10, bemused by the fact that modelling continues to follow her.

Rather than brush over her age, musk wears it as a badge of honour. And rightly so. A handful of times throughout the interview she gleefully states that she’s “nearly 70”, and her preferred hashtags on instagram are #justgettingstarted and #grandmother. Likewise, she praises the fact that covergirl cherry-picked her to showcase beauty at an age that’s typically under-represented through beauty advertising campaigns. “I think they’re doing a fabulous job, because there’s real diversity in the women they’ve chosen for this campaign and I’m just so happy to represent the older women.”

Her desire to represent a new definition of ageing surpasses her humbleness, and, to that end, she has lofty plans for the year ahead.Wanted older “I’d like to model around the world and show that women at 70 are fashionable, confident and happy about themselves, and to encourage women to be more confident and successful. Last year was really good, but this year will be even bigger.” #justgettingstarted …