Fans of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon are likely anxiously awaiting his new novel, Moonglow, set for release this year. It’s been a long wait since 2012’s sublime Telegraph Avenue, although Chabon offered a graphic novel last year with Casanova: Acedia.
For a wonderful Chabon read to help tide fans over until novel number eight arrives, GQ published his dispatch yesterday from Fashion Week in Paris, titled “My Son, The Prince Of Fashion.” Chabon brought along his youngest child (of four), 13-year-old Abe, and calling the boy a fashionista is putting it mildly. Chabon lovingly describes, with his usual gift for lengthy and spot-on metaphor, how Abe started with Wolverine costumes in pre-school, working his way up to the perfectly and edgily dressed young teenager he is today:
Some nights I used to stand in the doorway of his bedroom, watching him thoughtfully edit the outfit he planned to wear to school the next day. He would lay out its components, making a kind of flat self-portrait on the bedroom floor—oxford shirt tucked inside of cotton sport coat, extra-slim pants (with the adjustable elastic straps inside the waistband stretched to button at the very last hole), argyle socks, the whole thing topped by the ubiquitous hat—and I would try to understand what the kid got out of dressing up every day like a pint-size Ronald Colman out for a tramp across the countryside of Ruritania.
Unsurprisingly, Abe is a huge hit in Paris, as designers like Virgil Abloh and various models admire the boy’s brave and creative ensembles and embrace him as one of their own. The travelogue is made even more poignant by Chabon’s own unflattering description of himself as the boy’s “minder”:
There was only one flaw, as far as Abe was concerned, in the week he spent going to fashion shows: His poky old minder, making him late. His minder was not having anywhere near as great a time. His minder was hot, and bored. Most of all, his minder did not, fundamentally, really give all that much of a fuck about fashion.
Despite, or due to, the fact that Chabon does not possess Abe’s love for Fashion Week shows (who could?), the article still functions as a loving homage to the spirit of the boy that even his father doesn’t really understand:
Everybody wants to stand out from the crowd, but so few of us have the knack, and fewer still the stomach for bearing up under the crush of conformity. It was always Abe’s rare gift not just to stand out, and bear up, but to do those things with panache. And the way in which he expressed his difference most reliably, and with the greatest panache, was through dressing up.
In the end, Chabon is pleased that the boy seems to have found his own tribe, even as it pains him to realize that the tribe is not his own. Even if you don’t like fashion, or Paris, or children, the piece still qualifies as an amazing read.