Elon Musk’s Mother Maye Talks China, Skinny Models and Modeling at NYFW

THE CLOSER: Elon Musk was nowhere to be seen at Sunday morning’s Juzui show in New York (though celebrity flight-tracking specialist Jack Sweeney and his social media following could have guessed that), but security was tighter than usual due to a different kind of runway arrival. Musk’s mother Maye was backstage posing for a pack of photographers before closing designer Taoray Wang’s unisex show.

Before hitting the catwalk in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, Musk spoke of how “very special” it was to be closing the show. She also escorted Wang for her final bow, and waved good-bye to the crowd. “They have just been so kind, stylish and creative. And you know I love working with Chinese people. I go to China nearly every month. Last year I went to 12 cities in China for speaking engagements and for modeling, including skin care ones,” Musk said.

More from WWD

Asked if the geopolitical issues between China and the U.S. are prompting some to be more vocal about sharing their views, Musk said, “No, when I go to China, everybody’s happy, friendly and fun. Even with my friends here, they all want to visit China now.”

The Chinese-born Wang graduated from East China Normal University, studied in Japan and worked in London at one point for Junko Koshino. She now lives in England and works in Shanghai. (Sunday’s show was the debut of the designer’s suits and blazers for men.) Musk is equally intercontinental, having been born in Canada and raised in South Africa, she now calls California home. The 75-year-old model, who is also a licensed dietician and nutritionist, will soon be off to Uzbekistan to give a talk at a medical university, followed by photo shoots in Shanghai and Miami.

With a doctorate in dietetics, Musk ran a private practice for 40 years, until she “became a supermodel” and started traveling the world. She recently landed covers for Elle’s Slovenia edition and Harper’s Bazaar Serbia. As for whether she feels concern for some of the ultrathin walking the runways at New York Fashion Week, Musk said through her previous experience in working with models as patients, some of them are just naturally lean. “That’s how they grew up and they come from lean families,” she said. “Some struggle to stay lean. I would help them to eat healthily so they could have energy and stay lean. But when they are emaciated, it’s a concern.”

Asked if the industry needs to do more beyond offering healthy guidelines, Musk said, “There’s been a lot of things going on. In my era, models were always tall and thin. And I was short and fat, considering that I am a size 6 at 5-foot-8. Models then were 5-foot-10 and a size zero. But they were naturally like that and you can’t fight genetics.”

Like Wang, Musk has lived in different countries. Asked if she feels there needs to be greater tolerance of different opinions in life in general, Musk said, “Oh, that would be nicer,” before affirming a publicist’s redirect to more placid topics like fashion.

However, such questions were relevant, given how open Musk’s son Elon is about his commitment to free speech. Asked if that is something that she has instilled in him, Musk said, “I have three children. Tosca, my daughter, has [the streaming service] Passionflix. She produces romance movies. My son Kimbal has restaurants [through the Colorado-based Kitchen Restaurant Group.] He works and does good for people as well. And Elon does goodwill for the world.”

Best of WWD