The jewelry line celebrates stories, symbols and materials drawn from the model’s Nigerian, Thai and Chinese heritage. The notion of “home” informs the first collection, a theme she reflected on while locked down in Benin City in April 2020. “The pandemic made me ask: Where is my home? Is it America, where I was born? Thailand, where my mum was born? Nigeria, where my dad is from, and where I grew up until the age of 13? Home is where you have the most resources – where you feel safest,” she wrote in a personal essay for British Vogue.
Adesuwa worked with silversmiths in Thailand to realize delicate etchings of three storied figures of the Kingdom of Benin: Queen Mother Idia, the mother of 16th century ruler Esigie; Oranmiyan Omoluabi Odede, King of the Yoruba kingdom of Ile-Ife; and the Oba of Benin, the Leopard King of the Benin Kingdom. Precious stones, vintage Ghanaian beads and pure silver shapes cast from decorative coral beads feature throughout, while big pearls from China take form as statement earrings. “I’ve seen my friends put [the jewelry] on and honestly, it’s a spiritual experience,” she says, beaming. “They just start smiling, it’s so fire.”
Here, Adesuwa describes the influences behind Legacy, her new jewelry range, and her plans for the future.
On slowing down…
You remember how it was before COVID… We were moving so, so, so fast and not even aware of how much we were doing and I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know that I wasn’t happy because I just kept on going… you just had to keep going. Right before COVID happened I was like, “I don’t like this, I want to be happy, so how can I find it?” That was the quest. It was something that was already on my mind, but [the pandemic] really pushed me to be like, “Okay, enough is enough.” And I realised I have to create my own happiness, so that’s what Legacy is. Legacy is all the things I talked about [for] all those years.
On Legacy becoming an extension of herself…
Whatever issues that you’re dealing with, they’re literally your issues and yours only… Whatever is hurting you, you have to put light in there and try to figure it out. And by healing yourself, you’re really healing the world around you.