It’s also utopian, Dr. Moore says, because instead of waiting for things to get better, “fabulous people imagine an alternative universe right now.”
Though Dr. Moore began the book as a doctoral student at Yale, he says the work was really “35 years in the making,” tracing back to his childhood in Ferguson, Mo., where he studied to become a classical violinist.
He based his theory of fabulousness on the Norwegian-American sociologist Thorstein Veblen’s late-19th-century treatise “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” which satirized conspicuous displays of wealth during America’s Gilded Age.
“Think back to Diahann Carroll on ‘Dynasty,’ ” Dr. Moore said. “She’s performing Veblen’s theory of conspicuousness, turning it on its head. She demands a separate hotel room for her clothes. Yet she’s also that rare black woman in traditionally white spaces. Whether it’s her as Dominique Deveraux or trans kids today who can’t use a bathroom, there’s more at stake than just conspicuous consumption. Fabulousness is an embrace of yourself through style when the world around you is saying you don’t deserve to be here.”
Indeed, the crux of Dr. Moore’s theory is that while neither easy nor safe, fabulousness is sometimes the only option in the face of ridicule, harassment or neglect by the majority.