Perched on the edge of the once lonely west Texas highway, sits the sculptural replica of an Italian luxury boutique. The Prada Marfa, conceptualized and designed by Scandinavian artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in 2005 is the first-ever Prada-endorsed installation in the entire state of Texas. Emerging along U.S. route 90, the replica boutique is strategically located exactly 26 miles from the artistic desert city of Martha – which is well-known for featuring both indoor and outdoor installations at artist, Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation and at the Ballroom Marfa arts center.
Stoked with authentic brand apparel, the Prada Marfa installation is a life-size plaster, aluminum and glass painted boutique with a non-functioning door. Despite no way in or out, the exhibit appears legitimate, following the minimalistic design of real Prada stores and displaying select products through glass windows. Initially built as a manner of critique, taking jabs at the luxury industry’s exorbitant commercialism, the impermeability of fashion and society’s consumerist culture in what is described as a ‘pop architectural land art project’ – Elmgreen and Dragset, had planned on neglecting their project, allowing it to erode and fade back into the natural landscape.
Featuring iconic Fall/Winter 2005 pieces donated by Prada, the installation is more than a symbolic museum for fashion enthusiasts, it is backed by the brand’s appreciation and embracing support and has over time, evolved into a sensational cultural landmark – gathering a constant fleet of tourists from far and wide.
Weathering the elements and overcoming multiple legal threats and acts of vandalism, the Prada Marfa was not financed by Prada however, it represents the brand’s appreciation, respect and relationship with artists – allowing Elmgreen and Dragset to incorporate its esteemed name, trademark and aesthetic code in such an interpretive project. Beyond supporting the freedom of artistic expression, this project aligns with and sheds light on Prada’s confidence in its organizational and production ethics – which value its relationship with consumers, person and human resources, as well as, operational integrity and transparency. Prada Group’s code of ethics are also available to the public and easily accessible through an online pdf document.