Highway to Heels

Highway to Heels

The trajectory

In the tiny town of Valentine in Texas, some 1,837 miles away from Manhattan, there is a unique artwork named Prada Marfa. A faux Prada store not built for business, but is an installation with shoes and bags, handpicked by Miuccia Prada from the fall/winter 2005 collection. The selected things were cleverly chosen in a sandy, earthy colour palette, to be displayed right in the middle of the Texan desert. The installation is quite simple in nature and is made out of traditional clay stone, which was used in the region originally to build houses.

It almost looks like a UFO dumped in the middle of nowhere. This is the brainchild of Scandavian designer duo, Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, who always believed in the potential of contemporary artwork and put them out in the public that meets a different kind of audience, way different from those at museums. 

The vandalism

The project got an immediate criticism three days after the sculpture was completed, vandals condemned the work by calling it dumb, painting graffitis on the exterior and broke into the building, stealing all six handbags and 14 right footed shoes. Prada Marfa was quickly restored and restocked, this time with Prada purses without bottoms, along with a security system that alerts the authorities if the bags are moved.

Landmark of luxury 

The project became popular (or viral as they say) even before Marfa really became super hip. Suddenly, the signage with the miles marking to Prada Marfas was part of the web series Gossip Girl. No points for guessing what happened after Beyoncé took a selfie in front of it. It became so Instagram worthy that people are especially travelling to visit it. It is now a lot more than just a backdrop for people’s selfie. No one thought it would get so much of attention and become an art mecca for travellers and a landmark of fashion and pop culture.

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja is a feature writer at L'Officiel India. She is a silver jewellery hoarder and an aesthete of all arts. You can find her unraveling new stories day in and day out.