The Inventory: Bella Freud

Bella Freud, fashion designer

Bella Freud, 49, studied in Rome and trained with Vivienne Westwood. She is the founder of the Hoping Foundation, a charity that supports Palestinian refugees. The daughter of painter Lucian Freud, she is married to actor James Fox; they have one son.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a bed maker. When I was eight, my grandmother had a bed and breakfast, and I loved making beds. When I was 10, I thought London bus conductors looked really good – for ages I wanted to wear those grey suits and pale blue shirts.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

I went to a Steiner school, which I loved when I was little, but found exasperating as a teenager. I left when I was 16, and that was the end of my education. My path from 16 to 22 was very erratic – basically, I just messed around.

Who is your mentor?

A close friend, Karma, has been the wise person in my life. We have a charity, the Hoping Foundation, that we started together. My husband is also a very good person to turn to for advice.

How physically fit are you?

Quite. I do Pilates and go to the gym.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Ambition without talent is depressing to see. Talent with a bit of ambition is the energy you need to persevere.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?


How politically committed are you?

When politics reflects my values, I become electrified. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

A little. But I drive a big car. I don’t fly much, but that’s partly because I don’t like going anywhere. I worry about water running out so I never leave taps running.

Do you have more than one home?

No. We did rent a cottage but we gave it up.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

There are a couple of paintings that my father painted of me I’d like.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Most recently, a pair of Céline trousers.

In what place are you happiest?

I love being at home.

What ambitions do you still have?

Lots. I’m learning the drums and I’d like to get, if not good, a lot better.

What drives you on?

I love what I do.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My son. I’m proud of lots of things but he’s the top by miles. The Hoping Foundation is another thing that I’m incredibly proud of.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

When I was about 19, I had the opportunity to join the circus. They were going to train me to dance on a ball. I still wish I had done it.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

She would be amazed and pleased that I am now able to have a plan and put it into action.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I would be much more concerned about losing the love in my life than losing my business or my comfort. Love gives you the energy to persevere.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Totally. It seems perverse to have to live when you don’t want to.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I say I don’t, but I find it hard to imagine that my spirit won’t exist anymore.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

10, because, even though I’m often dissatisfied or unhappy, I still have a very good life.

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