What's hot:


The difference between fashion and art

Mona Simpson’s eulogy for Steve Jobs, published October 30 in The New York Times, is a powerful piece of writing. I hope you’ve had a chance to read it. One line in particular is still kicking around in my head a week later.

Simpson wrote about her brother, Steve Jobs:

“His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: ‘Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.'”

I had never heard that quote about fashion and art before. I did a few searches of Google and some quotation sites looking for where that quote might have originated. I can’t find it. I suspect Mona Simpson may have heard it from a witty friend, or perhaps coined it herself, and phrased her eulogy to leave the origin obscure, so the quote has more weight.

This doesn’t change the fact that it’s really good! I’ve never heard fashion and art defined with such wry accuracy.

I just wonder if we can’t make it tighter. Let’s try a little editing exercise.

Mona Simpson’s version:

“Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

What if we tighten as much of it as we can?

“Fashion seems beautiful now but ugly later. Art can be ugly at first but becomes beautiful later.”

What if we get rid of the negative words?

“Fashion seems beautiful now. Art becomes beautiful later.”

It needs a little bit of work for sense. What if we try it this way?

“Fashion is beautiful today. But only art will be beautiful tomorrow.”

Maybe there’s a better way to say it. If you can think of one, suggest it in the comments.

However you phrase it, it’s a nice affirmation of art. Put it in your pocket and bring it up in conversation some time.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Copywriting, Technology


  1. dombones says:

    I like what you did there. Also…

    “Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.”
    -Jean Cocteau

  2. Daryl Lang says:

    That’s the quote! You found it! Well done.

Facebook Conversations