A few days after their whimsical shoot celebrating the transformative power of makeup, Maye Musk and Peter Philips reconvene for a lively discussion. During their thirty-minute catch-up, the two bustling creatives share learnings from their respective careers, comment on the evolution of fashion, and provide their predictions on the future of modeling.
MAYE MUSK: Hi Peter, how are you?
PETER PHILIPS: I’m doing well, thanks for asking. What about you?
MM: I’m doing well, too. I guess the first thing I wanted to ask you about is your inspiration for this shoot. What was the creative direction?
PP: I was talking to Richard Burbridge, and we were talking about you. He was like, ‘Oh my god, she’s amazing.’ But essentially, this shoot is so different than what we’re used to.It’s about this strong woman. During the shoot, [Burbridge] kept referring to Lee Miller, who draws links between the surreal world–Man Ray and that era. We wanted to do something that people were not expecting. Because we all know you look fabulous in a dark smoky eye.
MM: Yeah, I look great in a lot of makeup.
PP: And you also look great raw, what I call the raw look.
MM: Yeah, now I’m raw.
PP: Yeah, and we wanted to see you in a conceptual environment. That’s something we haven’t seen you in. We wanted to do something that was more editorial, a bit edgier, almost like a picture you would like to hang on your wall or that could be part of an exhibition.
MM: Yeah, I love it. I didn’t know what was going on behind this. So what did you look at in terms of references? What inspired the shapes you created?
PP: Well, the references were very classical, surreal photography with Man Ray and Schiaparelli. Especially looking at the early days of photography, when artists started looking at models like sculptures and played with light and shadow. I also wanted to play with lipstick because I thought, ‘Maye wears lipstick really well, any shade and any color.’ And that was perfect because lipstick is my pride and joy.
MM: That’s perfect because the shoot was in color, so we could have different colors of lipstick.
PP: Yes, and that’s also why we did the styling in black and white. There’s also not much color happening in the set design because the surreal references we pulled were all black-and-white photographs. We wanted to tone down the color in everything. The only color you see is in accessories, skin tone, and lip color.
MM: Nice, really nice. I also wanted to ask about your approach to your craft. When preparing for a shoot like this, where do you start?
PP: Usually, for a shoot like this, I start by talking with the photographer. We have a lot of conversations talking about the inspiration, the magazine direction, how many pages, and more. But as you saw, it kind of grew during the day.
PP: Before the shoot, I had a few things that I wanted to do, but then during the shoot, I just kept it simple. We did a few lip options and then a few unexpected elements like the black and white petals around the eyes or the golden ear. I didn’t want it to be too gimmicky, but nice and balanced out.
MM: Wonderful. And in addition to the focus on beauty, there were also amazing looks fashion-wise. In your opinion, how do the worlds of beauty and fashion intersect? And in terms of the shoot, how are you able to pair so well each beauty with its respective fashion look?
PP: The world of beauty and fashion really intersect. I like to think I use my craft of makeup at the service of the designer. When I do a show with Maria Grazia, I am there at her service to enhance her vision. When we do editorials like this one, it’s making an image. Using our tools and pain to create an image of a painting. For photographs, we can construct images by thinking like a painter.
MM: I thought the three of you worked so well together.
PP: Yeah, it was perfect. I love being surrounded by creative people. It’s the most fun.
MM: Yes, for sure. I’m also curious to know how the world of beauty has changed since you got your start. In what ways has beauty and your craft evolved since your start? And what do you think the future holds for the world of beauty?
PP: Well, I’ve been doing this now for almost 30 years. It’s been a rollercoaster and the world has changed. The biggest thing is that makeup has become more accessible. When I started makeup trends were guided by magazines, and based on the shows in Paris and Milan, a bit of New York. So it was very much per season and per color. But then, because of social media, there’s more accessibility about makeup. Women and men did not have to wait for a magazine to come out anymore, they could just watch somebody on YouTube or on Instagram. And makeup would not just stay on models or actresses, but they would see it on people like themselves. Suddenly people who were intimidated by makeup, thought it was something more accessible, that they could pursue. Everybody is free to express themselves–men as well as women. And I think that’s a great thing that people get to have that freedom. There’s also so much more awareness about the environment. We pay attention to ingredients, packaging, recycled materials, the formulas, and more. We really are listening to all those needs. But overall, yes, there’s been a huge change in makeup.
MM: I think it’s wonderful because it keeps you on your toes, because you have to be ahead of the game. And you have to change all the time. Makeup looks change and you have to become more experimental as you say. It keeps your brain alive.
PP: And you can’t fool people because of social media. If something isn’t correct, or doesn’t keep its promise, people will talk on social media. It keeps us even more alert and it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for everybody. But now I want to ask you some questions. For this shoot, how would you describe the atmosphere and the energy of the shoot?
MM: I enjoyed watching the three of you do your thing. We started with makeup, then styling, and then Richard would come in. He really directed me toward his certain vision. And we got different looks and different styles. I loved it. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
PP: That’s great to hear. And as beauty is renowned for its power of transformation, in what ways did you transform with each look for the shoot? And what do you enjoy about this transformative process?
MM: With every shoot, you create a different feeling and vibe. For this one, Richard had a view that just the way I have to look, and you just lift it in the hands of you, Anna and Richard to, to decide what I’m going to look like and then follow the direction it was very easy. I like it.
PP: That’s so great to hear. And as you know, fashion and beauty are obviously very collaborative industries. What did you enjoy about being on set together? And, in general, how do you approach shoots and collaborations?
MM: Well, I’m a scientist. I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’ve got two science degrees, and I hang out with science people. So among them, I’m the best dressed, but in the fashion world, I’m not, so I depend on people with talent. I love to let stylists, makeup artists, and photographers decide how I should look because I depend on them.
PP: Cool. Yes, and you made your modeling start at age 15 and have been in the fashion industry for nearly six decades now. What keeps you interested in fashion and modeling at this stage of your career? How do you maintain that passion, or has that passion changed or shifted?
MM: At the age of 15, I was just doing the runway shows and then the print on the weekends or holidays because I was a student. You can’t miss school because we had very strict schooling, even at the public schools. So for me, modeling was just a temporary thing that when I turned 18, I would be done. But then I didn’t because people kept booking me. Then I got married and had three kids in three years–that kind of slows you down. Then at the age of 28, I was called to be a mother of the bride [on the runway]. And I was like, “What? They want me back?” And they said, “Yes, because they can’t have the 18-year-old models be the mother of the bride.” So I went back into modeling. When I was 31, I was divorced, and I moved to a new town. I went to the model agency, the best one there, and they always need one older model. So I was it. But my main thing was always being a dietitian. I had my private practice and my speaking engagements. I didn’t want modeling to interfere with my business, which is how I fed my kids. So for modeling, I told them they could only book me four days a month, and I wouldn’t do more than that. But then, when we moved to the States and the fees were so much bigger. I started giving some priority to TV commercials and print work, and they paid more than I was as a dietitian and speaker. Then one day on Facebook, a designer saw my photo and asked me to walk in New York Fashion Week for the first time at 67. I couldn’t believe it. When I walked out, everybody cheered. It was so nice. So since then, it’s really taken off. Because besides Facebook, then Instagram started, then Twitter. Twitter is more for my book because I wrote a book, and it’s in 100 countries. Who knew I had a story to tell? But there’s a section on modeling as well as other things.
PP: It’s amazing to hear your story and how every new project was like a surprise. So another question for you, Maye. As one of the ambassadors of Dior Beauty, can you talk a bit about how your connection to beauty evolves over the years?
MM: Even as a teenager, I did beauty campaigns, but they weren’t branded. It was just a model and makeup. And now, with Dior Beauty, I’m really special because my name is out there, and I’m getting a lot of really positive comments. Women are saying to me that I give them hope and that it inspires them. But it’s a lot of hard work. You see how much I work on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You have to let people know how good you are, but with a sense of humor and without being a big brag. You need to let them know you’re really good at your game.
PP: Yeah, it’s a lot of work. People think it’s glamorous, but it takes work. I think it’s a bit like surfing. You have to find the right waves, and sometimes you fall, but you get back on your board, and then you take another wave.
MM: Yeah, I feel that. Then there are those people who try to give me their plastic surgeons’ [information], but I always say, ‘No, I’m selling wrinkles.’
PP: I think that also reflects the philosophy nowadays. The beauty world has evolved because before, women always wanted to look young. Back then, being young was associated with no wrinkles. And nowadays, looking beautiful has to do with confidence and looking radiant. Ok, so last question. What does the future look like for you?
MM: Well, everything’s looking great for me. Thank you very much. What I’ve had to do is make changes as I go along and go with whatever is fashionable. So you can’t stay in your old looks. You have to actually move ahead all the time. And as I said, now I have professionals who make me look fabulous. Back in the beginning, I did my own hair and makeup and styling because that’s what we did in the ’60s and ’70s. And in the ’80s, there would be some styling, but for runway shows, I was doing my own hair and makeup, so you can imagine it was not that good. But it’s all exciting for me. I love bringing creative people’s visions to life.
PP: I think that’s also with maturity that you accept who you are. And that’s a great message to send out because that’s a strength. That’s something we can give to the world, right?
MM: Yeah, who knew this would happen? I had no idea I’d be modeling at 74 because you can’t plan for these things. Women often say to me that I give them hope and that what I do inspires them. And there are so many more things opening up–a lot of educational ones, a lot of speaking engagements. And my book is going to be in more languages, so it’s really looking great for me.
PP: Fantastic. I’m very happy we had the chance to finally make this work, this shoot.
MM: Same. It’s wonderful to see you again.