The Prada Marfa Store
Location: Valentine, Texas (14880 US-90)
When to visit: Anytime, but early morning or after dark are best for photos
Time needed: 10-15 minutes
Website: Wikipedia page
No matter how many photos you may have seen of Prada Marfa, it’s still surprising to see in person! Seeing this taste of modern urban life sitting out there in a desert in the middle of nowhere is wild.
The famed Prada Marfa store in Marfa, Texas is truly one of the quirkiest roadside attractions you can find on any road trip.
To answer the obvious question: It’s not a real Prada store. It’s an art installation that has become a wacky tourist attraction.
I was excited to finally visit this place last month, and learned a lot about the building itself, the surrounding community, and little tips for visiting, like which time of day is best for photos.
Keep reading for answers to all of your questions about the fake Prada store in Marfa, Texas!
What is Prada Marfa?
As noted, Prada Marfa is an art installation rather than an actual store.
Prada, of course, is an internationally-acclaimed Italian fashion brand known for its handbags, shoes, and more. The Prada brand is recognized as a sign of wealth and luxury.
Prada has roughly 60 stores in the USA today, many located in higher-end shopping malls.
Prada Marfa was designed to look just like an actual Prada boutique, with the gray-ish Prada awnings and actual handbags and shoes inside.
It’s made from biodegradable adobe bricks, plaster, paint, glass pane, aluminum frame, fiberboard, and carpet.
Can you go inside Prada Marfa?
Nope, it’s just a storefront. The front door doesn’t even have a handle on the front door, just a keyhole. The door cannot be opened. A security camera facing the front door is visible.
So you’ll have to enjoy Prada Marfa from the outside.
Where is it located?
Prada Marfa is actually not located in the town of Marfa itself. In fact, it’s 37 miles away from downtown Marfa.
The mailing address here is in Valentine, Texas. Valentine is a tiny community of 134 people with a small residential district a mile from the Prada.
How do you get to Prada Marfa?
Just take Route 90 to the little town of Valentine. Route 90 is a lightly-traveled two-lane highway.
Coming from the north, it’s a 35-minute (37 mile) drive from I-10 down to Prada Marfa. Exit I-10 in Van Horn, Texas and follow Route 90 south.
If you’re in downtown Marfa, you’ll have to drive 30 minutes north on the highway to reach the store.
What will you see here?
The storefront itself is the main attraction. It’s cool because you never see a fancy store like this surrounded by desert, dead grass, and barren ranch land.
You can walk right up to the windows and peer inside to see the items on the shelves.
Next to the store is a small informational sign that explains some of the history of the site.
Behind the store, a fence marks the line of the neighboring property. One side of the fence is just typical barbed wire. Someone had strategically placed old cowboy boots on the fence when I was there.
A second fence running around the backside of the property is more sturdy. Visitors have taken to placing love locks and other souvenirs on this fence.
Are the shoes and handbags on display really made by Prada?
Yes! I was surprised by this, since Prada items are so expensive. But it turns out these items were from the fall 2005 Prada collection. Someday these goods will be considered vintage (if they’re not already!)
There are six purses on display, as well as 18 stilettos, all of which are for right feet. The purses have security technology inside them to alert the authorities if someone tries to take them.
Who built Prada Marfa?
The Prada Marfa was created in 2005 by Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, artists from Denmark and Norway, respectively. Art Commission Fund and Ballroom Marfa (a local art center) commissioned and produced the project.
In 2005, Prada did not have any stores in Texas. That made this roadside attraction stand out even more, because it was so unexpected.
The fake store cost $120,000 to construct. It was robbed immediately after being completed. The products were replaced, and a caretaker was assigned to help monitor the location.
What’s the meaning of the store?
Elmgreen & Dragset built Prada Marfa to critique the culture of consumerism and luxury goods. But they haven’t clarified exactly what their message is.
That leaves the site open to interpretation. Create your own social commentary if you like. Or just appreciate the architecture and the wackiness of its bizarre location.
Elmgreen said in a 2013 interview, “It was meant as a critique of the luxury goods industry, to put a shop in the middle of the desert. Prada was sympathetic to the idea of being criticized, and that’s all.”
Did Prada approve this art installation?
They did, actually. Prada supplied the products for the display, and allowed the artists to use the Prada name and logo.
That’s a bit surprising, since the art is meant to critique luxury fashion. But Prada has certainly received a ton of publicity over the years for this weird desert shop. It’s definitely helped their brand in their long run.
Why did the artists put this in Marfa?
Originally, Elmgreen & Dragset were hoping to find a location in Nevada for this piece, but they couldn’t find a community there to make it work.
Eventually, they located the town of Marfa, which is known for being an artsy community. So it was a perfect match.
Where can you park when you visit Prada Marfa?
There’s a large gravel area around the building with plenty of space for vehicles. Just try not to park too close to the structure, since that would ruin photos for folks who want to get wide pics.
This photo shows the large size of the parking area on the shoulder of the highway:
What time of day is best for photos?
Prada Marfa is on the west side of the highway, and its front door faces east. That means the best time for photos is in the morning, while the sun is shining directly on the store.
You can still get good pics in the afternoon or evening, but they may be backlit.
The other good reason for arriving early is that crowds will be smaller. Show up before 9 am, as I did, and you may get the place to yourself. I stayed for about 15 minutes and only two other cars stopped during that time.
At this time of day, vehicle traffic is so light that you may be able to walk into the middle of the street for photos.
Does Prada Marfa light up at night?
It does! Wait a little while after sunset, and the interior lights will come on to illuminate the inside of the fake store. A dim light will appear behind the rows of shoes, and that can create some cool pics as well.
Have any famous people visited Prada Marfa?
Yes. The biggest name is Beyonce, who visited back in 2012 as part of a Texas road trip and posted the photos to her Tumblr.
From a one-stoplight town in Texas to Beyonce's playground, this is Marfa http://t.co/iQIAj2TH3s pic.twitter.com/whEF9Cua6I— HuffPost (@HuffPost) February 5, 2015
Even the Simpsons visited Prada Marfa in a 2019 episode where they took a west Texas road trip. The episode, titled “Mad About the Toy,” won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program!
What font is the Prada Marfa sign?
The Prada Marfa sign uses a custom-made modern serif font that was designed specifically for the logo.
The closest font you can find online is likely the Engry font. Engry was created in 2018, so it was not the original font used by Prada. But it’s a very close match.
How far is Prada Marfa from the town of Marfa itself?
As noted, Prada Marfa is 37 miles from downtown Marfa. The drive will take 30-35 minutes. It’s definitely worth checking out the town after stopping at Prada Marfa.
What else is there to see in Marfa, Texas?
Marfa has art everywhere. Just park downtown and walk around, and you never know what you’ll encounter.
You can find a Frida Kahlo mural on the side of an auto parts store. Marfa Studio of the Arts has a gallery.
You can find a cool “Greetings from Marfa” sign at the Frama coffee shop.
The Presidio County Courthouse is an impressive building.
Near the Presidio County Courthouse are the Ranch Candy gift shop, the Esperanza Vintage store, and an outdoor arch with the Marfa name on it.
Built in 1930, Hotel Paisano is a historic landmark with a celebrity history. Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson stayed there in 1956 when they filmed the movie Giant.
El Cosmico is another cool place if you’re looking for a Marfa hotel. El Cosmico consists of yurts, old trailers, and other non-conventional lodging, which fits perfectly in an artsy town like this.
Marfa has a lot of other little shops, and plenty of restaurants as well, so you can easily spend a full afternoon here.
The Prada Marfa store is directly on the driving route between Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park.
It’s also a fun detour on a drive between Los Angeles and Austin.
How do you feel about the weird Prada Marfa boutique?