Marfa is a small city in Texas with less than 2,000 inhabitants. The place is far away from the glamorous fashion centers of the world, such as New York, Paris or London. All the same, though, Marfa has become famous for having a Prada 'store.'
Prada Marfa gained global recognition and interest thanks to the Internet and social media. It is impossible not to notice it, seemingly plonked down at random in the middle of nowhere. Why would Prada choose this place? Well, it was not a random decision. There is a meaning behind it. Curious? Keep scrolling and discover everything about Prada Marfa.
10 It is not a real store
You might have seen pictures of this curious Prada store in the middle of nowhere. No, the brand did not expand their activities to the middle of the desert. In fact, it is not a store, but an art installation.
The building is similar to other Prada stores, and there is even a showcase of the products. However, it is never open and the products are not for sale. Nothing is random, though. There is a whole meaning behind Prada Marfa and its location.
9 The minds behind it
The art installation was created by the Scandinavian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. They have worked together since 1995 and Prada Marfa is their most famous piece to date.
The artists had the idea when they were walking in Chelsea and noticed that Soho was full of high-fashion brands. They decided to playfully attach posters saying "Prada, coming soon" in front of an art gallery. Not everybody understood the joke and people thought they were closing.
8 It was expensive
Some people got the meaning behind the posters. Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen loved the idea and helped to create Prada Marfa. They contacted Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, and together they developed the idea of the project.
Prada Marfa cost $120,000 to build. Villareal and Remen financed the project through their Art Production Fund. "The installation was initially meant as a sort of an experiment," Elmgreen & Dragset said. "We really wanted to see what could happen if one would make a fusion of pop and Land art. It was also meant as a comment on branding and consumerist culture."
7 It will not be renovated
Although it carries the Prada label, the artwork is not a shop. The initial idea is never to repair the building and let it degrade during the years. Perhaps the idea is to show a symbol of consumerist society ruined by time. The marks caused by nature or humans can also somehow tell more about our culture.
"We loved the idea of the piece being born on October 1 and that it will never again be maintained," Villareal said in an interview with The New York Times.
6 Prada Marfa is a target for vandalism
Although the initial idea was never to renovate the building, the place became an easy target for vandalism, which made people change their minds.
In 2005, someone broke the window and stole some of the expensive merchandise. The items and made some changes. The valuable pieces are protected by tracking technology now. They also replaced the windows, and Prada Marfa now has a camera and an alarm. In 2014, a vandal splashed blue paint on the walls, which ruined the front of the installation.
5 Few people attended the opening
As you know by now, Marfa is a small city in Texas, and it is far away from the artistic spotlight. The idea of Prada Marfa is to show a brand like Prada away from cities like Milan, New York, or Paris and introduce it in a whole new context.
Unsurprisingly, few people were able to attend the opening. "No-one was there for the opening … There were just some ranchers that were there and five friends from New York," Elmgreen said.
4 Prada approved the project
Prada is one of the most valuable fashion brands in the world. As such, a project such as this could never exist unless the brand approved it. If they hadn't, perhaps the artists would have had to pitch to other high-fashion brands like Chanel or Dior?
The team had a meeting with Miuccia Prada and presented the project to her. The stylist not only approved but supported the idea. The brand provided shoes and handbags from their most recent collection. As we know, some of the items were stolen in the same year and replaced with new ones.
3 Beyoncé helped to promote it
Prada Marfa was created in 2005 and remained almost invisible for years. Although some people knew about it, the artwork only came into the spotlight when Beyonce took some pictures in front of it. The "Single Ladies" singer posted the images on her social media. As everything she does gets a lot of attention, it was enough to rocket Prada Marfa to international fame.
After that, other names like the Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni visited, Vogue staged a photoshoot there and Prada Marfa become a bona fide tourist attraction.
2 Brands can't use it for advertisement
Tourists can feel free to take pictures of the place, but brands need to request permission. However, it is unlikely it will be approved.
Prada Marfa gained visibility and several brands have reached Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. All of them wanted to use the place as a photoshoot location. The artists never allow companies to use Prada Marfa on their campaigns. Their decision makes sense, since the art installation was not built to make money from. Prada Marfa is also a way to make people think about consumerism, and it would be odd to see commercial campaigns with the building in the background.
1 Not everybody likes it
Prada Marfa was almost demolished in 2013. Although it is an art installation, the Prada label brought some issues. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Prada Marfa is an "illegal outdoor advertising sign."
The artists released an official letter saying that "there's a difference between being commissioned by a company to do something for them and using their logo, and using their logo on your own." Although it's controversial, Prada Marfa is still standing.