ModsnapTV is gone for now, but Jacob Flores’s merry fashionistas continue their campaign
For some fashion fans, “Mod” is a young man riding his Vespa to a coffee bar or tea room in Liverpool in 1963, dressed in a bottle-green mohair suit with black trousers. At the club he kicks back and listens to Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley. For other cultural critics, Mod is waiflike supermodel Twiggy in fake eyelashes and Courreges minis posing for Honey, Vogue, and Seventeen.
|Vanessa Reveles poses as Matsuko Homma for Modsnap.com’s “Vai Vai” photo series.|
Who would have thought that a 3-letter word could spur so many different ideas? The true meaning and history of Mod — shorthand for Modern, a mid-century lifestyle that cultural critics consider one of the defining movements of the 1900s — has been debated on runways and in print almost since its inception. The ’60s — the decade in which Mod culture evolved — can be separated into three or four categories, and the Mod revivals that have occurred over the past 20-something years have subtly modulated the music genres and fashions associated with the movement. Remember The Who’s 1973 album Quadrophenia and the film that followed it six years later, around the time of the great Mod Revival of 1979? Or how about The Jam with Paul Weller, who was identified later in his career as “The Modfather” by many of his admirers?
For San Antonian Jacob Flores, 33, Mod is a way of life. Which is why, in 2004, Flores, a deejay at KSYM and co-owner of vintage shop Function Square, created Modsnap Media Group, a band of likeminded enthusiasts, including photographers, fashion models, and filmmakers, who pay tribute to ’60s Mod style in a variety of media.
“When I think of Mod, I think of the late ’60s; a modern girl with straight hair, wearing a space-looking dress, walking into a white room with plastic furniture,” Flores says. “I wish I was there.”
Since time travel is not yet an option, Flores decided to bring the past to him by using his resources and connections. Modsnap started as a simple website (Modsnap.com) for ’60s-style fashion photography. With the help of a former colleague, Abra Schnur, 23, Flores arranged photo shoots with volunteer female models and photographers from across the city, and posted images from each shoot in an online archive. Soon, more models were interested in becoming a part of Modsnap.com.
|Modsnap member Abra Schnur, aka Lindsey Cartwright.|
“At first I just went in to take some pictures and talk about the ’60s,” says Schnur, who now works at Texas Public Radio. “The idea for the site was something I had never thought of before. I think I’m the only one that completely got Jacob’s concept at first.”
Flores says his concept continued to develop as his small team of models and photogs transformed into a group of fellow travelers “working together to create classic Modern sights and sounds with contemporary ideas and technology.”
Once he knew he had the numbers, Flores added short films, turning his models into actresses right before the camera’s eye.
“The more people came in, the more projects we wanted to do,” Flores said. “For the films, we just started creating characters. Our models became actresses with pseudonyms and we went from there.”
This included Schnur, whose alias is Lindsey Cartwright, the main character in all 40 of Modsnap’s soap-opera-like short films, which are set in 1968 and follow Lindsey’s attempts to launch a new fashion magazine called ... Modsnap.
“The funny thing is, our characters always look busy, but we never get anything done,” Schnur says. “You kind of assume that we publish this magazine, but you never really see us doing that.”
Incorporating the original Modsnap project into the films was important to both Flores and Schnur because they wanted to use the five 27-minute productions to deliver their Mod message to people who would rather watch a movie than look at online photography.
Their short films, which include Fishy, Cole Slaw, and Symbol, enjoyed increased exposure in June 2005, when a now-defunct public-access channel offered Flores a time slot to broadcast what he would later dub ModsnapTV. (Although no longer on TV, a few of the short films can still be seen on the Modsnap website.)
|Modsnap founder Jacob Flores.|
“I had applied for public access a year before even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the television slot,” Flores said. “But when I got a call back and `they` said a time slot was available, it was perfect because we were already working on the films.”
ModsnapTV premiered June 11, 2005, with the films The Catalogue, The Catalogue 2, and Final Index. The final episode aired December 24, 2005, after Time Warner pulled the plug on public-access production in the city.
Still, none of the Modsnap members headed for the exit. The crew continued to work steadily, and at the beginning of June 2006 held their first live fashion show, Flying Colors, featuring the chic and colorful designs of Modsnappers Vanessa Reveles (aka Paris Ann) and Agosto Cuellar (aka Jive Refried, named for his vintage store on South Alamo). Modsnap models strutted across a makeshift runway to the sounds of bossa nova while sporting the newest in Mod gear.
“We’re trying to bring the fashion concept up more in San Antonio and make this a movement,” Cuellar said. “`Modsnap` is making the wheels move and making people work together through organic creativity. We all have the same passion ... so it’s easy to feed off of ideas and create a growing community in fashion out there.”
One of the ideas in development at Modsnap is a documentary on Braniff International Airways — the defunct Texas-based airline that for Flores is the epitome of Mod (the Modsnap website includes photos of a recent trip to Dallas and a DVD of Braniff commercials and in-flight movies). The Flying Colors fashion show was inspired by the airplanes redesigned for Braniff by American sculptor Alexander Calder as part of the company’s mid-’60s image overhaul. In pursuit of the “end of the plain plane,” Braniff hired Italian designer Emilio Pucci to redesign the in-flight staff’s uniforms, and the company also made key modifications to its aircraft interiors, gate lounges, ticket offices, and even the corporate headquarters. Braniff’s daring choice of colors, including orange, beige, baby blue, and lemon yellow, earned it the nickname the “jelly-bean fleet.”
Flores hopes to offer San Antonio a similarly inspired glimpse of fashion adventure via Modsnap’s incarnation of the Mod spirit. “The ideas are just expanding,” Flores said. “We want to give people a variety of what Mod really is.”