I was looking for some pictures to go with my post on the fabulous Bella and Susie this evening and as usual I got a bit carried away! Why post one picture when you can post twenty?! I came across a couple of articles I really like, so I've reproduced them here.
There are a few things I didn't know. I knew Bella was married to a writer called James Fox but I didn't know that he wrote White Mischief. I haven't read the book, but I should as I absolutely loved the film. It was a great story and I was particularly entranced by Greta Scacchi, and to my surprise, by Charles Dance. Marit Allen's beautiful costume design deserves a special mention as well. I posted about it previously HERE.
I must get a copy of this...
I was extremely interested to read that James Fox also co-wrote his friend Keith's autobiography. Readers of my blog will know Keith is one of my favourite people ever. I've already pre-ordered of this book and can't wait to read it!
Written by Paul Mardles for the Observer, October 2009
In the corner of Bella Freud's large L-shaped kitchen, surrounded by photos of her father, Lucian, there is a punchbag and a spanking new drum kit. The punchbag, suspended from the ceiling, is her husband's; the drums belong to her son, Jimmy, who is eight. "He's been playing for about a year," says the celebrated fashion designer, 48, whose clients include Kate Moss, Madonna and Nick Cave, "and it's just gorgeous to listen to; he's very good. Yesterday he was playing Smoke on the Water and, well ..." She stops, throws her head back and admonishes herself, terrified of coming across as vainglorious. "Has he got a favourite drummer? No ... oh yes: Keith Moon. He loves watching him go crazy on YouTube. And," she adds, going off at a tangent, "he really, really likes [1930s and 40s jazz singer] Cab Calloway as well."
Nick Cave and Kate Moss pop over for Karaoke and she's mates with Keef. But what about the fashion designer's soul years?
Such precocity runs in the family. Bella, one of the many children of a man who is routinely labelled Britain's greatest living painter, and the great granddaughter of Sigmund, the founder of psychoanalysis, was aware of rock 'n' roll before she attended school. At the age of four, she says, then living in Morocco with her mother and younger sister Esther, who chronicled their bohemian childhood in her novel Hideous Kinky, she "liked the way the Beatles and the Rolling Stones looked".
Photography by Cecil Beaton
Bella Freud by Lucian Freud, 1981
Oil on canvas - 35 x 30cm. Collection Roy and Cecily Langdale Davis
At 11, she developed her first crush - on Leonard Cohen, who was then 38. "I was very, very moody," she explains. Freud, quietly stylish in her drainpipe jeans and jumper, a white dog's head imprinted on the front, is sitting on a sofa in her west London house, all vintage furniture, amazing photographs and a massive pile of washing in the bath. "I felt that everything Cohen said," she adds, choosing her words with a great deal of care, "his dryness, his cynicism, his droll heartache - I was there with him." Little wonder then that she takes issue with those who regard the former poet as funereal. "No, he's not depressing. The melancholy cheers you up, because you feel that somebody's saying what you feel, that they're acknowledging it. Also, he's incredibly funny. It was like ... having a cup of coffee or a drug. He settled me."
Freud, however, doesn't stay still for long, as a glance at her CD collection indicates. There are albums by Kurt Weill, T. Rex, Gillian Welch, Salif Keita, the Pretenders and Earth, Wind & Fire, to pluck just a handful of names at random. Somewhere too, no doubt, there is a huge Bob Marley section. In her early teens, says Freud, she was obsessed with him. "I can remember the first time I heard him - it was like ... like ... an arrow," she says, staring into the distance, once more an angry, idealistic teenager. "As I was always interested in justice, I connected with him straight away and wrote all the words to Get Up, Stand Up on my schoolbook."
Photography by Katherine Rose
In 1975, she went to see Marley and the Wailers in London, where Bob proved "fierce, laid-back and very cool. And I remember that I was standing next to these three huge Rastas who were shouting [adopts Jamaican accent] 'Rastafari! Jah!' all the way through the show. It made me think that there was more going on than I was aware of. I was a bit intimidated really, but it was unforgettable."
Two other acts have had a similar impact on her. The first were the Stones, especially Keith Richards, of whom there is a photograph in Freud's hallway with his wife Patti Hansen in the early 1980s. "I was overwhelmed by teenage angst and misery, and outraged by authority, and then the Stones came along and I completely changed." As Freud's husband, the novelist James Fox, is writing Richards's autobiography with him, she must, suggests Record Doctor, know him fairly well by now. "Actually," she says softly, not in the least bit smug, "I met him when I was in my 20s and living with a friend of his in Rome." Then a fashion student, Freud showed Richards a coat she had designed, resulting in her flying to a studio in Paris, where the Stones were recording an album, and fitting him for the jacket in the wee small hours. "He's so witty and dry," she says. "You don't hear him talk much but he's very, very funny."
Keith and Patti
She never enjoyed quite the same rapport with the Clash, but they - or more precisely, punk as a movement - changed Freud's life again in the late 70s ("It was the first time when being young felt powerful"). Energised, she moved to a flat in central London with her half-sister, the novelist Rose Boyt, and began to patronise punk hangout the Vortex. Frustratingly, she never saw the Pistols, she reveals, though she caught the Clash at north London's Hope & Anchor, and an early incarnation of the Pogues in Leicester Square. "And they were fantastic," she says excitedly. "I loved that combination of Irish music - which I'm very fond of - and general raucousness."
More than 30 years later, Shane MacGowan is just one of Freud's musician friends. Among the others: Nick Cave, whom she adores, the "incredibly cool" Bobby Gillespie ("That he loves country music makes me want to get into it too"), Chrissie Hynde, Suggs, Jools Holland and Lulu. Most, if not all, attend Freud's karaoke nights, which she hosts annually for a charity (the Hoping Foundation) that assists the children of Palestinian refugees. Last year's bash was notable, she says, for Nick Cave's take on Destiny's Child's Bootylicious ("Amazing. He just kind of inhabited it") while this year Suggs, dressed as Susan Boyle, "did this crazy dance to Me Ol' Bamboo from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Then, right at the end," she continues, "Kate Moss, who was prowling like a cat, sang Summertime with Dave Gilmour on guitar. It was such ... a moment."
Was Kate Moss any good? "Good?" asks the woman whose charmed life has meant that she has grown accustomed to the best. She stands up and, anxiously, looks at her watch, mindful that she's promised to collect her son from school. "No," says Freud, dreamily, "Kate wasn't good." She smiles to herself. "She was unbelievable."
Kate Moss and Bella at the Hoping Foundation fundraiser
Nick Cave and Kate Moss at the Hoping Foundation Fundraiser
Jamie Hince, Susie Bick and Kate Moss
The symptoms: Whats on the patient's (Bella's) iPod
Leonard Cohen - Take This Waltz
Rufus Wainwright - The Art Teacher
Bob Marley - War
Primal Scream - Rocks
Nick Cave - No More Shall We Part
The Clash - Police and Thieves
The Rolling Stones - Stupid Girl
Kurt Weill/ Lotte Lenya - The Seven Deadly Sins
Earth, Wind & Fire - Reasons
The Pogues & the Dubliners - The Irish Rover