Serpentine contours, polychromatic hues, and an effervescent playfulness radiate through each of Corey Moranis’s highly-considered jewellery. The designer’s creations compliment individuals with an idiosyncratic sense of style, those who exude a brazen whimsicality, which is precisely why the Canadian designer tapped legendary New York City original Jane Marx to star in a four-minute documentary showcasing her signature lucite designs. Directed by Caroline Macfarlane and Catharina Schürenberg, Reflect the Light revels in authenticity, while also providing an exuberant antithesis to the fashion industry’s infatuation with youthfulness. S/ recently spoke with Marx, Macfarlane, and Schürenberg to discuss female companionship, the significance of individuality, and how Marx became a missionary for her collaborators.
This project brings forth a bevy of talented women forging a path for themselves in their respective fields. How important is female camaraderie in creative and cultural industries?
Catharina Schürenberg: “It’s not only important, it is imperative. The patriarchy has trained women to see each other as competition, as opponents rather than allies. In a largely male-dominated industry like the film industry, (and so many others) we need to support one another. As we all know, it’s much harder for women to assume high ranking positions and a lot of women feel like they have to act like men to be accepted and survive in the boys clubs. There is so much power in femininity and the female instinct—if we band together we can not only normalize women in positions of power and balance out the ratio but also work and be creative from a place that is uniquely female and powerful.”
Caroline Macfarlane: “Finding female-identifying artists you can collaborate with creatively is like a superpower. When I’m working with women I trust, I don’t feel as much pressure to ‘prove myself’ and because of that I have more energy to experiment and take risks throughout the creative process.”
Jane Marx: “To be yourself and feel safe with your responses defines a healthy relationship. Such was the case in our all-female interaction. The common genes, the outlook, the one for all and all for one attitude made it easy to lock arms. Standing on other females’ shoulders is a team sport requiring practice. Women must become building blocks for each other.”
What was your favourite part of starring in this video and working with Caroline Macfarlane and Catharina Schürenberg?
Jane Marx: “Our mutual self-exploration. Like a syncopated rowing team, we tapped into our unconscious minds supporting their expansion. Since Caroline and Catharina endowed me with their high regard, I became a missionary, with the help of the camera’s lens. ‘While there’s breath, there’s surprise,’ which is why I showed my navel. Exploring the body’s electric potential, we begin to live out loud.”
What was your favourite Corey Moranis piece you wore in this video collaboration?
Jane Marx: “Like a kaleidoscope, each lucite rendering enhanced my appreciation of the colour spectrum. Be it my fingers, my ear lobes, my neck, wrist or that lucite pretzel that begged for definition—lucite took centerstage. I exist as a speck but now through my accessories, I can play with light.”
As a multi-faceted female creative, how do you maintain your curiosity about life as well as your joie de vivre?
Jane Marx: “We’re born with curiosity. It’s in our hardwiring. Early on I repeatedly asked, ‘Why?’ Energy, too, is inherited. I walked fast. I talked fast. I thought fast. My challenge: how to monitor my speedometer. After decades of trying, I mastered it. The ‘me’ inside of me is free which is why I dress-up.”
The project explores the New York metropolis from an outsider’s perspective, largely forgoing traditional city sights for something more unique. How does shooting outside of the tourism periphery reflect the aspirations of the brand?
Caroline Macfarlane: “We actually don’t see this film as taking an outsider’s perspective, but rather the POV of the insider! Jane is as New York as it gets. She’s been a tour guide for over forty years. None of her tours are the same and none of them are typical. They are experiences, spontaneous urban adventures. Through Jane’s style and through her tours, she pushes us to let go of the idea of fitting a mould and following trends. For Jane, it’s all about finding your own voice and holding your own candle in the dark (as she often says). And the thing, is when Jane walks the streets of New York City, she is stopped constantly by all kinds of people who tell her she is gorgeous and inspiring, who want to take her photo. It’s like she is giving other people permission to be themselves at any age. This is why she is such a good fit for Corey’s brand. Corey’s lucite pieces beautifully compliment whoever is wearing them no matter their personal style. Her jewellery doesn’t overwhelm or dictate a specific look. Rihanna wears Corey’s pieces and so does my mom and they both look amazing!”
Catharina Schürenberg: “When we came up with the concept for this project our motivation for choosing locations was not finding iconic New York sites. We were inspired by colour, light, materiality, textures and a sense of adventure. Natural materials such as the marble, a snakeskin top or the ocean and sand created interesting visual dichotomies with the lucite. Corey’s jewellery reflects and contrasts their environment beautifully. We wanted our film to capture the way lucite plays with its surroundings.”
What steps did you take to highlight Jane’s idiosyncrasy whilst showing how she complements the brand’s particular mission statement?
Caroline Macfarlane: “The process was really organic. Catharina and I had a number of brainstorming sessions and explored the city together looking for inspiration and locations we could use. Because we had worked with Jane on previous projects we were already very close. We wanted our film to embrace Jane’s authentic style and her sense of humour. Jane is also an incredible improviser. None of her lines in the film were scripted—they all came to her on the spot. Catharina and I would ask Jane questions that would provoke a rant or a monologue or in some cases even a dance. Jane’s off the cuff humour and sage wisdom makes the film. She is a natural performer. Catharina brought her years of experience as a costume designer to the project and distilled Jane’s energy and style sense into the outfits selected. It was really collaborative. Jane was part of the process every step of the way.
“Mainstream visual culture has brainwashed women into feeling shame around their bodies as they age. We are supposed to get less loud, less sexy and therefore less visible in the clothes we wear as we get older. We are told to conceal our wrinkles and our cellulite. We wanted this film to throw the ‘invisible woman syndrome’ out the window.”
Catharina Schürenberg: “In pre-production, we went over to Jane’s apartment one afternoon and got her to go through her entire wardrobe with us. It didn’t feel like work—it felt like hanging out with your girlfriends. She modelled a number of her fave outfits for us and we helped her cull a bunch of things. It was great to get even more of a sense for Jane’s personal flair as it is her energy that infuses the whole project. The next day and with a strong idea for the aesthetic in mind the three of us went shopping together to find outfits that were in line with Jane’s style but with the volume turned up. We took Jane to some of our favourite stores in Greenpoint and the Lower East Side and asked her to try on everything from ’90s strappy silk crop tops to pink cats eye sunglasses, baggy jeans and short shorts. We were nudging Jane to take her style to the next level. We were giving her permission to push the envelope and she did.
“Although Jane’s style is colourful and vibrant—she kept telling us she couldn’t possibly wear something that showed her ‘midriff.’ We and everyone else around us that day told her otherwise. Strangers approached Jane while she was trying on various outfits to tell her how fabulous she is and how hot she looked. In the end, Jane bought a crop top and a number of other items that she would never have bought otherwise. It was an empowering day for all of us.”
The video fabulously thwarts the fashion and beauty industry’s insistence on youthfulness. How did Jane Marx enter into the conversation when conceiving this project?
Caroline Macfarlane: “Jane was the subject of my recent documentary short Falling Forward, which is a really personal film about our friendship but also our shared grief and loss. Catharina and I were in film school together at the time and I asked her to shoot some of the more emotional scenes that I was in because I trusted her so deeply and loved her eye. By the time we started filming Reflect The Light for Corey, the three of us had already been through a lot together—professionally and personally. Jane has become our NYC godmother—we’re family now.”
Catharina Schürenberg: “We were all so tired of seeing billboards and ads and runways full of young, skinny, mostly white models. We were bored with airbrushed faces and anti-wrinkle personality erasion. Jane is insanely beautiful and we wanted to celebrate her wisdom, her body, and her spirit in this film as authentically as possible. And Jane—who is always up for new experiences—was game as soon as we asked her. We hope this is the beginning of Jane’s ‘early elderly modelling career!'”
How has this collaboration strengthened your bond as co-creators, as well as friends?
Caroline Macfarlane: “Film projects are deeply collaborative. When you have a team of strong creative minds—it’s the best, but the process requires a lot of negotiating which has the potential to be challenging when you’re friends. I’m proud of our ability to disagree, find solutions and build on one another’s ideas without causing conflict. These disagreements only make our work stronger.
“This collaboration was spearheaded by Catharina and I, but would never have happened without the talent and generosity of the other incredible women involved. Corey trusted us to make this film without trying to micromanaging. She sent us her collection from her studio in Toronto. After we pitched the idea to her, she let us run free creatively. Ciel, without hesitation, provided us with the perfect soundtrack. Tyche, who we met in film school, joined the team in post and was integral to the outcome.”
Catharina Schürenberg: “We also really compliment each other in our skill sets and are really aware of that. So we have no problem admitting the other person is right, has a better solution for something or should take the lead on a certain task. What makes our collaboration so special and incredibly fulfilling is that our sensibilities, creative brains and core values seem to be pretty much one and the same. Documentary making is all in the moment so if the trust and telepathy between you and your co-creator is real the only logical result is MAGIC. This film isn’t your typical branded ‘content.’ As you can see, it has its own distinct aesthetic, rhythm, and energy that is uniquely shaped by all of our vital femme creative identities.”