From Palmy To NYC | How Kiwi Model Maia Cotton Became Fashion’s It Girl

By Marilynn McLachlan
15th Apr 2019

She’s graced the covers of magazines all around the world and modelled for the likes of Victoria Secret but 20-year-old Maia Cotton’s heart remains firmly with New Zealand.

The stunning brunette, who was discovered on Instagram at the age of 15, is one of the faces of Bonds, and most recently became the key female ambassador for Bonds Comfy Living—a new range that blurs the lines between sleepwear and daywear.

We recently chatted to Maia about life in New York, JOMO and what she most loves about New Zealand.

Life has changed so much since your Palmy days, what are you most loving?

Honestly, I think life is great right now. I love living in NY. I’ve been here two years now. The first year is a little bit difficult with getting settled and now I feel really really comfortable here. I’ve got great friends and work and so yeah it’s good.

What’s good about the modelling industry over there?

I enjoy it because I get to do something different every day.  I get my schedule the night before and I never really know what to expect or what I’m going to be doing and I love that about my job. It’s really fun and exciting and I get to travel.

Where have you been recently?

I was actually in Ohio last week and Philadelphia the week before and I’m in Milan in two weeks, so it’s lots of travel.

What don’t you like about the industry?

I think obviously modelling has amazing perks and I’ve always wanted to be a model and it’s been my dream but it is hard. I think it’s a lonely job at times—being alone in hotel rooms and travelling by myself but for me, the good outweighs the bad and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

What does a typical day look like for you?

So in a weekday, I’ll have a casting so I’ll to some of them. I’ll wake up and I actually live above my gym so I’ll work out every morning with my trainer and then get ready for the day and then I’ll go to a couple of castings. Or, if I’ve got a photo shoot, I’ll go to work and then come home and end the day with friends or watch a movie and chill out.

What do you do for downtime?

I love Netflix and I usually if I have a crazy day, I put on something light on TV or Netflix and I change as soon as I come home into pyjamas or something comfy and just chill out. I also try and put my phone down.

Are you a reader as well?

Yes, I love to read. I love reading in the city—I love going into a coffee shop and reading.

Any faves?

I just recently read Gone Girl and it was so good. I’m about to start The Pilgrim which I’ve heard is very good.

Everyone used to talk about FOMO and now people talk about JOMO. What are your thoughts?

OMG someone told me about this the other day. I love that. I used to get a lot of FOMO when I first moved to New York and all my friends were back home and hanging out together and I was homesick. But I think you know, you always want what you can’t get. When I’m home I want to be out and when I’m out I want to be home. I think it’s a good thing.

Are there any trends you can see over in New York that might come to New Zealand?

Good question, I’m not sure. I think the thing that New York does is that everyone is so individual and does what they want in terms of style and no one really cares. You could wear something completely crazy and no one would look twice.

Do you think New Zealand could come to that point?

I would like to think so. Sometimes I buy things here and bring them home and my friends are like ‘what were you thinking?!”

Who are you most inspired by right now?

I’ve always been inspired by models that I’ve looked up to. I loved Giselle and Candice Swanepoel have always been huge inspirations of mine. They’re both incredible models and have had really really great careers and that’s what I would love to be able to do—have that longevity in my career.

What are you most proud of being a Kiwi in New York?

I get so many compliments because I’m from New Zealand. People love the accent but I think the fact that we pride ourselves on being such a beautiful and green country I think people love that. I tell everyone to come visit!

What do you most miss about New Zealand while you’re away?

Just the air. That sounds weird. But as soon as I get off the plane, I always feel better when I’m in New Zealand.

Do you have a creative outlet beyond your work?

I love to paint—my dad is an artist so I’ve always had art in my life. And I was a ballet dancer so I always try to take classes all the time here. It was easier when I was doing it a lot but New York is the best to take a class so definitely when I can I try to go.

What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome and how did you do it?

That’s a good one. Just the challenge of the transition of picking everything up and moving to New York was big for me. Because I’m definitely a homebody and it was scary for me. I was 18 when I moved to New York and modelling is so risky and you never know if you’re going to make it. I think that was the hardest thing and saying goodbye to my family and just going for it.

Do you have anything on the horizon that you can share with us?

It’s all so last minute but I’m going for Victoria Secret again this year, but you never know if you’re going to get it or not. But that’s always my goal with castings and I feel like they come around so quickly. So fingers crossed.

When you’re visiting New Zealand what are your favourite places?

Bay of Islands—Russell for sure. My family have a bach there and we go every year and I love it. I love the top of the North Island.

The Quick Five:

Favourite song when you need inspiration:

Bohemian Rhapsody.

The one thing people would be surprised to know about you:

Probably that I did ballet competitively.

Fave fashion purchase:

A leather jacket I bought five years ago.

How would you describe your style:

Minimalist, young and chic. If I can say that!

The one person you’d want to meet that you haven’t already:

I’m going to say, Giselle.

Looking for more inspo? Take a look inside the creative mind of Stan Walker

Image credit: supplied


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