Designer Bella Freud on her Fred Perry collaboration

Jamaican dancehall and military culture: Sigmund Freud's great-granddaughter delves into her own past to predict a reggae revival

Today, British heritage label Fred Perry is unveiling its new AW14 Blank Canvas collaboration with designer Bella Freud. The woman responsible for resurrecting cult London label Biba (and who also has several directorial credits to her name), Freud created a capsule collection for Fred Perry’s Laurel Wreath range inspired by 60s Jamaican dancehall and reggae culture. The line’s knitted pieces feature military stars, crown motifs and the Jamaican flag colours of red, yellow, and green – and the label’s iconic laurel emblem, of course. The collection is a true homage to the sounds and cultures of her youth, including ska and reggae – “Growing up my favourite band was called Matumbi who were one of the biggest British reggae bands of the 1970s and 80s," she says. "If you look at pictures of them now they always looked so smart and turned out. But it's not just the music, I love the scene too." 

Considering the brand's history, Freud’s collaboration with Fred Perry was an ideal fit – her designs riffing off the sportswear styles that hark back to the decade when mods, skinheads and rude boys embraced their subcultures through the way they dressed. How did she feel when tasked with redesigning the classic polo? "Initially quite daunted! I love the Fred Perry shirt! I wear the Fred Perry shirt! I think as a piece of clothing it is quite perfect as it is.” Thankfully, that didn’t stop the designer from putting her own stamp on it: “I made the collars bigger to reflect the era I had in mind. Stars feature throughout, and these are a direct reference to reggae artists. I always found them so flashy when growing up wearing all their jewellery and pins,” says Freud. “As a designer I find the whole aesthetic endlessly appealing, and I wanted to incorporate this into my collection for Fred Perry: a brand that also has roots in this scene.”

The Bella Freud Blank Canvas collection is now available in selected stores and online. Check out Fred Perry's video above starring Adwoa Aboah to celebrate its release.