The middle of the West Texas desert isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a fully stocked Prada store, but stop a few miles outside of the tiny town of Valentine, Texas and you’ll find just that.
The brainchild of Berlin-based artistic team Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa was meant to be a “pop architectural land art project.” Built of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, the building is meant to slowly melt back into the Earth, serving as a surrealist commentary on Western materialism. Interesting, then, that Miuccia Prada herself was consulted on the project, handpicking the merchandise for the store's interior and allowing Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada logo. Costing a sum total of $80,000 - or, put another way, about 40 Prada handbags - Prada Marfa’s grand opening occurred on October 1st, 2005, and the perplexed associated press spread the news all across the country.
With all the press coverage, it was only a few days before vandals converged on the site, breaking the windows, looting the store, and grafitiing the walls. Elmgreen and Dragset came in and repaired the building, but this time around they’ve taken precautions: all of the store’s Prada wares are heavily alarmed, and stronger windows have been installed to protect the interior from forced entry. Additionally, the handbags have no bottoms and all of the shoes are right-footed. While the vandalism might be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to Prada Marfa, the site still gets thousands of visitors a year, despite Route 90’s low traffic flow.
Most people buy the artists’ story, but a few vocal dissenters have flooded the internet with conspiracy theories. Some even argue that Prada Marfa is a trap set by aliens meant to attract potential abductees. Visitors beware.