NEW YORK — After driving for several hours on U.S. 90 from El Paso toward Valentine, Tex., and seeing nothing but desert, the eye is lulled into submission by the flat, barren landscape. Imagine, then, seeing an otherworldly glowing green light emanating from a large structure in the distance.
An alien spaceship? No, but something almost as strange: a Prada store.
Rather than a real Prada store (there's little market for stilettos in this rocky terrain), it's actually a sculpture by Berlin-based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, called "Prada Marfa."
"Prada Marfa," which was unveiled Saturday, will remain in the desert as a permanent installation, where it will be weathered by the elements. "The maintenance will be limited," said Dragset. "It will be like a little time capsule. It will probably go in and out of fashion. It will decay. Some of the things we cherish now won't be the same in the future. Here, nature is taking over slowly."
"Prada Marfa" was produced by the Art Production Fund here, and Ballroom Marfa, a nonprofit space in Marfa, Tex. Despite its name, the installation is located in Valentine, about 26 miles outside of Marfa, a minimalist art epicenter founded by Donald Judd.
Elmgreen and Dragset are known for raising political and socioeconomic issues in their work, which also explores alienation, exclusion and sexuality. "There is a trompe l'oeil effect in their work," said Eric Sklar, director of the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Chelsea. "Often there's something that's dysfunctional. How the public interacts with them is a very interesting aspect of the work. The audience is always a very active participant."
Elmgreen and Dragset have collaborated on a variety of installations and performance pieces since 1995, including a show at the 2003 Venice Biennale that starred a chimp trying to spell "Utopia" with large dice, and an installation at the Tate Modern featuring an animatronic sparrow in the throes of death.
The idea for "Prada Marfa" grew out of an earlier installation. It began in 2001, when Elmgreen and Dragset noticed that art galleries were being priced out of SoHo by designer stores. They built an installation at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery sealing off the storefront and erecting a black-and-white sign on the facade reading, "Coming Soon, Prada.""At the time, Comme des Garçons was already in Chelsea. We were pointing toward something that eventually would happen," Dragset said, referring to the mass migration of the art world to Chelsea. "Art and the fashion business go hand-in-hand with the gentrification process. The artists often come first and then the designers."
But of all the luxury brands, why choose Prada? Dragset cited "a moment when every gallerist and important person had to wear Prada. It became a uniform. We were also fascinated by the fact that Prada has some involvement with art through its foundation in Milan."
The artists even contacted Germano Celant, director of Fondazione Prada, who showed their proposal to Miuccia Prada. "She was very positive from the beginning," Dragset said. "They've been very kind. They gave us color codes and Miuccia selected 20 pairs of shoes herself from the 2005 autumn collection." The footwear, along with a few handbags, are the only products actually in the fake store.
Yvonne Force Villareal, founder of the Art Production Fund, said, "It's wonderful that Miuccia Prada could rise above any critical stance this piece can take. It's not an antifashion piece. It deals with elements of minimalism. It's using fashion to also talk about art and how culture can be bought in many ways."
She said Prada comes off well in the piece and gets its name splashed on a piece of art. "They look pretty good because they allowed the artists to use the logo," Force Villareal said. "It's very smart of them. They see beyond just the fashion industry. Prada is a company that understands art at a very high level."
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye