Model, author and dietician Maye Musk had a front-row seat Saturday when her son Elon’s company SpaceX helped launch astronauts into space at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In addition to SpaceX’s launch Saturday, Musk and her family have had numerous reasons to celebrate in recent days. Her book “A Woman Makes a Plan” was published in Russia, her daughter Tosca enjoyed the “Gabriel’s Inferno” premiere for her streaming service Passionflix and her son Kimbal’s restaurant reopened in Boulder, Colo. While the family watched the launch together at Cape Canaveral, Elon Musk was so excited that “he actually did jump for joy,” his mother said.
The nationwide civic unrest in the U.S. may have dimmed the SpaceX news, but Maye Musk is trying to remain optimistic. She said Monday, “I think everyone should try to share good news, because there’s so much sad and bad news. We have to try to get over these protests. Things will change. They have to change…We can’t have bad people creating chaos like now…I just feel devastated at the moment.”
WWD: How was the launch?
Maye Musk: We flew in for the launch on Wednesday. We all got excited and hyped up, then of course, there was lightning so the launch couldn’t go. Then we had to wait until Saturday. It went so smoothly, the weather was perfect and now the astronauts are in the International Space Station. Elon said, “Why do people watch for three hours as the astronauts go into the space station?” I said, “I did that.” He said, “You did that?” I said, “I sat for three hours watching everything.”
WWD: So many children dream of being astronauts and your son has helped to launch astronauts. When Elon was a boy, did he want to be an astronaut?
M.M.: My daughter Tosca’s two kids were dressed up as astronauts to watch the launch. These two men [Doug Hurley, 53, and Bob Behnken, 49] who are around 50 years of age, which I think is wonderful, are inspiring boys and girls of all ages…Elon was always interested in everything.
WWD: What did you think when he first told you about his plans for space travel?
M.M.: He had just sold PayPal. I reminded him of this Sunday. He said to me, “Should I go into space research or into electric cars or into solar energy?” I had thought he worked so hard at PayPal — so hard. I said, “You should just pick one of them.” Obviously, he doesn’t listen to me. He really, really works hard.
WWD: Were you involved with the design of the SpaceX spacesuits?
M.M.: (Laughter) No, not at all. Elon said about four years ago that it was going to be the best design for an astronaut’s suit. He brought in a designer who did a magnificent job. It would have been tweaked 20 or 100 times because it also has to be practical and safe for flight.
WWD: How is your new grandchild — Elon and Grimes’ son? Do you and Grimes talk about fashion?
M.M.: Absolutely adorable. He was with us at the launch. She has incredible fashion and is creative. I admire people who are creative because I am a scientist. I work with so many creative people in the fashion industry
WWD: Will Elon and Grimes get married?
M.M.: I didn’t ask them.
WWD: How will the terrible events of the past weekend affect fashion and retail going forward?
M.M.: It’s just tragic. The protesters have a good cause but the looters have made it into a really ugly scene. The stores were just opening, and now they have been completely destroyed, all their merchandise is gone and the windows are smashed. We are in such a bad situation that I don’t know how it’s going to improve. It is hard to celebrate things when there is so much tragedy around you.
WWD: How do you think the protests may affect consumers’ sense of safety in going out in public?
M.M.: I certainly won’t go to the main shopping areas and I’m sure many people will avoid the main shopping areas of downtown or wherever the looters are. It is a day-by-day change. The stores have to repair themselves. How do you even get the insurance to cover the costs when insurance companies are overloaded? It’s going to be slow but everyone will be determined to work. I am ready to work.
WWD: What do you have coming up for work?
M.M.: I have been wanting to work with a well-known photographer for a while. He wants to wait another month…Nobody feels good about being together yet in a room. So all the flights, bookings, speaking engagements were canceled. My book is being published in 20 countries. I was meant to be flying around the world for my book launch. So we’re doing everything virtually.
WWD: What is your book about?
M.M.: Penguin Random House wanted to talk about my whole life. Then Elon, Kimbal and Tosca said you have to talk about your struggles. I said, “People see me as the happiest person on Instagram. I really didn’t want to talk about it.” But then I did talk about my whole life. But I tried to lighten it up because I did survive. Women are reacting to my stories about abuse and being treated badly. Men are reacting to the business section and the health section. Everyone relates to the family section and loves the adventure section.
WWD: In addition to the abuse, what have been your greatest challenges?
M.M.: I’m an obese person in a healthy size. I was a plus-size model for about 10 years. Then my health deteriorated. I either had to go on drugs or painkillers, or eat better. So I had to lose 65 pounds.
WWD: Who do you hope to work with when the restrictions do ease?
M.M.: Walter Chin, Steven Meisel. I think I worked with Walter 30 years ago in Toronto to do a poster. But in those days, you didn’t keep track of people like you do now on social media.
WWD: Do you think fashion will come back from this?
M.M.: I think it’s going to be more sustainable, less glamorous. It’s going to take a while. I’ve modeled designer clothes where they have spent hours putting together a beautiful garment for me. I don’t know if people are going to spend so much.