Bella Freud

Elizabeth Glendinning

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA221

Bella Freud was born in London in 1961 to the writer and gardener Bernadine Coverley and prolific twentieth-century artist Lucian Freud (1922–2011). Her great-grandfather was Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud is a leading designer, favored across the globe for her limited-edition pieces, which have a cult following including among celebrities such as Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl.

Freud studied fashion and tailoring at Accademia di Costume e di Moda, Rome, before returning to Britain in 1980. Following three years with Vivienne Westwood, Freud launched her own label in 1990 with knitted minidresses and suits—her knits would prove continuously popular throughout her career, often embellished with a playful slogan or reference to contemporary culture. Freud’s fall/winter collection of 1991 won her the Most Innovative Designer award at London Fashion Week, for which she showed a short film of her models at a racecourse. Her film work continued when she collaborated with actor and director John Malkovich (1953–) to produce three short films as alternative methods to showcasing her collections: Strap-Hanging (1999), Lady Behave (2000), and Hideous Man (2002).

In 2000 Freud joined Jaeger, rejuvenating the brand and opening it up for a new clientele. Between 2004 and 2006 she consulted for the high-street chain Miss Selfridge, and designed two diffusion collections for them before being appointed head designer for the relaunch of cult 1960s label, Biba. Her debut for Biba’s spring/summer 2006 ready-to-wear line explored the archive and revived the label for the twenty-first century, relaunching it into the designer market. Throughout her career, Freud’s work has continued to be at the forefront of contemporary style and has featured in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s “London Fashion” exhibition (New York, 2002), and is held in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection in London.

Freud collaborated with friend and muse, Susie Bick, in 2010 to produce a twelve-piece collection of knitted sweaters, minidresses, and accessories. Her fall/winter 2011 collection featured drawings by shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who is also godfather to her son, Jimmy. (This same year, Freud tragically lost both parents within days of each other.) For spring/summer 2012, Freud created four T-shirts for Barbour’s Heritage Originals collection, featuring playful designs of farmyard animals.

Freud continues to live and work in London, regularly contributing to magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She founded the Hoping Foundation with the academic Karma Nabulsi in order to support young Palestinian refugees, for whom she continues to raise awareness.

Bella Freud, Spring/Summer 1995. Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Bella Freud. Web site. .

Find in Library Chang Angel. ““Exhibition Review: London Fashion”.” Fashion Theory 7, no. 2 (2003): 229–234 .

Find in Library Durrant Sabine. ““Bella Freud Bares All”.” The Telegraph , 12 November 2012 .

Find in Library Goodrum Alison. The National Fabric . Oxford : Berg, 2005.

There’s Something About Bella.” Barbour, n.d. (accessed July 2012).