The Prada store that got left behind

Mike GristAbandoned Art, USA, World Ruins 6 Comments

In the Texas desert near the little town of Marfa, on a stretch of Highway known as the loneliest road in America, sits the Prada store that got left behind. No attendants bustle behind its chic white counters, though it’s fully stocked with veblen bags and shoes. The automatic doors don`t open and no one will validate your parking, but the lights do come on at night, making its glowing glass frontage the only illumination for miles around.

Photo by Jonathon Percy.

The Prada Marfa is a permanent art installation, built by a Berlin-based artistic couple called Elmgreen and Dragset, with the approval and oversight of Miuccia Prada herself- who provided their logo and the goods on display within. Shortly after it was constructed it was smashed and looted, as you might expect, but the artists only returned with more goods, smash-proof glass, and some serious alarm systems, rebuilding it as a little commercial fortress in the desert.

It is made of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, designed to slowly dissolve back into the land over time. It cost $80,000 to build, and all the goods on display within are authentic, if imperfect- the shoes are all right-footed and the bags have no bottoms.

Now it provides surreal amusement to anyone driving through that stretch of blasted land.

Photo by Noel Kerns.

It got left behind by the Prada herd as they were driven over the Texas deserts 5 years ago, the runt of the litter that couldn’t keep up with the others. Ever since then it has remained by the roadside, waiting for its fuel source to die out, watching as its expensive goods slowly slide out of fashion. At night it dreams of crowds of uptown yuppies fawning over its leatherwork, and briefly knows contentment.

Photo by i5prof.

Salvador Dali-esque use of the reflecting windows. Photo by LaMadrilena.

Photo from Wikimedia.

When I was a kid I had a picture book called `The Lonely Skyscraper`. It was a haunting and beautiful story of a skyscraper who felt empty in the city, because nobody truly lived inside him. Sure, he was full of bustle and noise during the day, but at night he was left dark and alone, but for a few security guards patrolling his floors.

So he uprooted himself and ran away to the countryside, where gradually animals came to live in him, with dormice and birds making nests of his paper supplies, bears hibernating in his basements, and deer grazing the grass that shot up through his forecourt. With so much life inside him, he finally knew peace and happiness.

It`s a beautiful book, though long out of print. You can buy it second hand through Amazon here.

Text linkAtlas Obscura, Houston Press

See a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.

See my collection of Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:

[album id=4 template=compact]

Comments 6

  1. I drove across Texas 10 years ago, just missed it. Knowing the vast empty expanse that is the majority of Texas, especially in March before any crops are planted, it would be quite the shock to see this Prada plopped right on the side of the road.

    The photographers who took these shots were really skilled and creative.

    Maybe the most surprising thing is that Prada the company was cool with it. It almost makes me respect a useless company like it. At least it seems they have a sense of humor and don’t mind being used for a statement/artistic expression like that.

  2. Post

    Greg- Thanks, that’s really encouraging to hear.

    Mike- It’s a great shot, agreed.

    Jason- As for Prada, I guess they collaborated for the press it would bring them. Apparently when the store first went up there was a huge flurry of media attention, as you might imagine. It’s just so bizarre. But still, I agree, it’s pretty cool of them.

  3. Just recently went and saw this delightful gem last week. I had seen it once before when I lived in Alpine Texas in the early mornig hours while driving back from a trip to New mexico. I had no idea it was out there and it gave me some exhilarating creeps. I had to second guess myself out of thinking I had drove into the twilight zone or that the red bull I was drinking had gotten the best of me. Had to go see it again and took many shots. Last time I had left the camera at home. It never gets old and it cheers me up evertime I see such a unique piece of the desert. Thanks for writing about this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *