Despite 50 years in the modeling industry, Maye Musk—who has been the face of CoverGirl, a star in Beyoncé’s “Haunted” music video, and made countless covers of fashion magazines—does not consider herself high-fashion minded. “I’m really a scientist,” Musk, who has two master’s degrees in the sciences and doubles as a dietician, tells me over the phone from her home in New York City. “I rely on stylists to make me look great.”
Although she remains coy and modest when discussing her fashion know-how, Musk has had an undeniably successful career in the industry. And her latest modeling venture, as one of the faces for a brand new Ugg campaign for the label’s foray into apparel, is the latest exciting creative project of which she’s taken part. For Ugg’s “The Perfect____” campaign launching today, Musk can be seen alongside Kim Petras, Duckie Thot, Parris Goebel, and Fernanda Ly, modeling pieces on offer—including a printed faux-fur jacket, a tracksuit, and a Sherpa. Below, the model delves into her personal style (a topic she considers to be her weak point—but we disagree), recalling her fondest memories of 1960s fashion, detailing her daily uniform, and mulling the benefits of a super-high heel.
During the pandemic, did you find yourself wearing more comfortable clothing—maybe a pair of Ugg slippers here and there?
I was wearing very comfortable clothes during the pandemic, of course, like everyone else. I just started working with Ugg, so I’ll certainly be wearing the clothes in the future.
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
My favorite was the teddy coat, The Gertrude. And they’re going to send it to me because I’m flying this week. On planes, I always freeze, even if I have a blanket. And I can just roll myself up into this soft and fluffy coat.
What’s your go-to outfit for a day off?
When I have a day off, I spend a lot of time walking the dogs, so it’s jeans and a t-shirt and sneakers.
What were you wearing yesterday and why?
Yesterday, I went to lunch with some friends who are quite fashionable. So I wore nice jeans, and a long-sleeve white shirt because I don’t want the sun on my arms, and sneakers because I like to walk to wherever we go when I can. And a hat, because it was a warm day.
It sounds like you have a jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers uniform.
I have quite a lot of that, yes [laughs].
Do you have a favorite pair of sneakers? Would you consider yourself a sneakerhead?
I have a variety of sneakers, because I like cozy shoes. Depending on what outfit I’m wearing, I’ll choose the color and style of sneaker. But I’m not a sneakerhead, because I wear very high heels as well. When I’m doing red carpets or going to dinner, I wear very high heels. You can’t believe what I’m put in.
What was your style like as a teenager?
I was in South Africa, so the fashion was six months behind, but the magazines were up to date. Fortunately, my mother always made our clothes because she’d been through the depression in Canada. She taught us how to sew, and also sent me for pattern-cutting, because I wanted to make bell-bottoms and tent dresses. These are the kinds of clothes that weren’t in the South African stores yet. My twin sister always reminds me that she would be studying like crazy and I would be sewing like crazy. Since 15, I was modeling. But then again, I wasn’t so much interested in high fashion. I was a science nerd. [In the 1960s,] I wore a miniskirt I’d made to school. My professor didn’t think a girl should wear miniskirts, so she made me wear a lab coat over it.
What was your first major fashion purchase?
Very high heels in the 1960s—four-inch, very thin heels, with a closed toe and a leather strap to go around my ankles. I really thought I looked fabulous in those. They weren’t designer, though, they were very inexpensive. I didn’t have that kind of budget, and had to be careful in those days.
Do you have a favorite fashion moment from pop culture?
Sandra Dee from Grease. When I saw that [movie], I made a dress with a wide skirt and put petticoats underneath it like hers. I also did the Twiggy makeup, with fake eyelashes on top, and then individual lashes underneath my eyes. I would do that every day, which is crazy. It took an hour to get ready to go anywhere. We also did beehives, teased up our hair…It’s hard to imagine that.
What’s your biggest fashion regret?
One time, I went on the red carpet wearing these long feather earrings. I thought I looked like a clown. But then I got a best dressed award, so it just shows how I don’t quite understand fashion.
Which friend or designer’s style do you admire the most?
I don’t know if you’ve read my book, but my best friend is Julia Perry. I’ve known her for 30 years, since we were both in rent-controlled apartments in Toronto. She styles me for everything. I would say she still looks better than me, because she’s really forward with her thinking. But she styles me in a fabulous way—she mixes old and new designers, and I can never understand the different colors she can put together. Again, you can’t be good at everything. And if you’re not good at something, you get an expert.