Mystical Marfa: A Houston Stylist’s Guide to the Remote Texas WonderlandBY Gabrielle Sauls // 08.06.15
Desert landscaping at the Marfa House on the Hill stands out.
I once heard this quote: "You can pack for every occasion, but a good friend will always be the best thing you could bring." My best friend, Liz, checks out the vintage trailers at at El Cosmico.
Desert essentials: a hat and a lightweight poncho
We came across this abandoned home in Valentine, and I quickly styled and photographed my friend Chad Landry, who is a hair and makeup artist.
Hangar-like building at the Chinati Foundation and an endless view of perfect clouds
Rings from my favorite find, the Moonlight Gem Store
Teepees at El Cosmico
Our shadows against teepees at El Cosmico
I loved all of the old signs around town, especially this one outside of The Lost Horse Saloon.
The yuccas plants were some of my favorites in the area, and I learned that their root extract is often used in shampoos and soaps.
My friend Chad relaxes after working a long day in the sun.
We loved to explore the Chinati and Judd concrete structures.
I captured this amazing cloud formation and sky somewhere between Alpine and Marfa.
Snapshots from inside the Marfa House on the Hill
The famous Prada Marfa, the only source of shade for miles
We found this animal skull in the desert.
Spurs and chains on our black boots to combat the rough desert terrain and the prickly cactus plants
Collin waits for our lunch from The Food Shark.
Liz and I spent time catching up while strolling among the Judd concrete structures.
My vintage Stetson was perfect for the Marfa sun.
Collin scouts the Prada Marfa installation.
I was inspired by the muted colors at Chinati.
Marfa. Say that word, and art and quirkiness come to mind. And distance. It’s that little place in Texas’ way-out west, and it can take a long time to get there, but we think it’s definitely worth the effort. So does Houston-based stylist Leslie Rivas-Kelly, who recently accompanied her husband, fashion photographer Collin Kelly, on assignment. Along with a few of her friends who work on Kelly’s crew, she made the journey to discover what she calls the “mystical appeal” of Marfa.
In your suitcase.
Hats! I brought a lot of them, and they’re the perfect accessory, along with my Prada sunglasses, to combat the harsh desert sun. I mostly wore lightweight caftan dresses, and my Free People black moto boots were ideal for the rough terrain. Since I couldn’t layer clothing, I layered on from my collection of silver and stone jewelry. A comfy poncho and Diane Von Furstenberg leather jacket were perfect for the cool nights. I also packed some hydrating beauty products, including Nuxe Paris Body Oil, Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask, and Perricone MD No Blush and No Bronzer products.
We stayed at Robert Bellamy’s Marfa House on the Hill. An eclectic, adobe home with stunning decor that included art by Julie Speed, circus posters, oddities and a whale hanging in the master bedroom. Bellamy did an incredible job designing the landscaping all around the house. My best friend, Liz, came to visit me and stayed at the historic Hotel Paisano, which was equally as charming, though some say it’s haunted.
Lesson learned about eating in Marfa: It’s very important to remember that once a restaurant runs out of food (and it’s more common than you think) they close their doors, so don’t wait around to eat. Dinner reservations are required. The Capri is an excellent spot for lunch. Keep cool with ice cream from The Tumbleweed Laundry. Maiya’s Italian is a must-try for dinner. The Lost Horse Saloon is a fun dive bar for afternoon drinks and live music, and on the way out of Marfa, stop by Alpine and enjoy some great cocktails at The Saddle Club.
My favorite spot was The Moonlight Gemstones store. I purchased rings made of silver, Mexican jelly opal and dinosaur bones made by the store’s owner, Paul. They also carry an incredible selection of agate, fossils, pyrite and silver jewelry. After a stroll through the teepees and vintage trailers at El Cosmico, visit El Cosmico Provisions Co., which has a great selection of books, jewelry and things for the home and body. I also liked the Cobra Rock Boot Company and the Hotel Paisano gift shop [for souvenirs].
Make sure to visit The Chinati Foundation and all of the charming art galleries in the area. Also, don’t miss the drive around the tiny town of Valentine en route to Prada Marfa, an installation by Elmgreen and Dragset that is a replica of a Prada store. On your way home, I highly recommend stopping by The Caverns of Sonora for a tour of caves full of calcite crystal formations.
I mostly loved that Marfa was off the beaten path and filled with wide-open spaces Just being in nature surrounded by the wildlife and under the big skies, with views to minimalistic landscapes, was unforgettable. My favorite moment was the night we grilled next to a bonfire with all of our friends and just spent hours just gazing at the stars.
Would you go back?
Yep! Already planning our trip to celebrate Halloween in Marfa and Día de los Muertos in the ghost town of Terlingua this October.