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This year, Marina Mirage is celebrating 35 years of business, and in honour of this momentous occasion, we want to thank our retailers. Marina Mirage wouldn’t be the incredible shopping destination it is today without them.

Sonia Stradiotto is one of the most iconic designers on the Gold Coast, so to have her gallery showroom located here at Marina Mirage is something we’re very proud of. We joined Sonia for a tour of her showroom to reflect on some of her most memorable moments at Marina Mirage and the importance of client connection.  

How long have you had a store at Marina Mirage?

I’ve been at Marina Mirage for 25 years and my business is 35 years old next year, so we connect. I love being here.

Our company is a blood, sweat, and tears success story. We were originally Bliss Fashion Emporium and we’ve had five Bliss Fashion Emporium stores here at Marina Mirage, which then merged into Sonia Stradiotto Couture, and then we had Bliss and Sonia. We’ve had so many stores in the centre and every one has worked well. This is an iconic place that I love being a part of.

Tell us more about the experience of shopping at Sonia Stradiotto Couture.

Every woman is different. You could have twenty people walk into our space, and they’ll all walk out in different outfits – you’d never guess that they’ve shopped in the same store.

When you come into the store it’s a journey. This store represents every part of Italy. When you walk in, on your left, you walk into Venice – it’s very art deco. Then we come around to the Cinque Terre, the Italian Riviera and all the colours of that beautiful part of Italy. Then it’s more subdued when we come over to Florence. Florence is always more minimalistic and corporate, so you’ll often find your navy with a pop of colour here. We also have Rome. Rome is very wow – dolce, rose, stripes. Then of course, we’ve always got a Positano and Amalfi Coast section. This is probably my heart and the one I really love, even though my hometown is Venice.

It’s a story. You come into our store and it’s a gallery showroom, and that’s the beauty of our business – we don’t sell, we help you to buy. It’s a completely different concept. We dedicate our lives and our purpose to you, and what’s right for you.

We stock a lot of beautiful accessories as well. When people come to visit, they’re in good hands because they can find everything from jeans and ball gowns to headbands and little race dresses. Everyone says that when you come to Sonia, it’s like a Pretty Woman experience. You don’t know which pieces are there until someone serves you, and every woman is equal. Every woman is special. Every woman is a beautiful picture, but it’s important that we frame her correctly. That’s my mission, I want to protect that dying art.

What’s also important about the brand is that it stays in your heart and your mind. That is what a really beautiful brand does. Because we celebrate with people, they remember us because we’re a part of their milestones.

People love us because they see the second generation, my daughter Bianca, and they love that my daughter is in the business and that makes me really proud as a mother – people love her. My daughter just naturally loves the brand, knows the brand, and is incredibly talented.

Is there a particular piece you’re especially proud of?

We have three iconic pieces that are my favourites (everybody knows this). They are the Sequin Tux, the Frill Blouse, and the Wrap Dress.

The Wrap Dress is a little sneaky because she can be anything. She can be a black sequin wrap dress, but she can also be a black satin wrap dress and a pink frilled wrap dress. This dress comes in short and long styles, floral styles, stripes, rose print, silk, and satin. I feel very privileged that many women have been seen out in the Wrap Dress like the Premier of Queensland. 

What are some special moments you’ve had here at Marina Mirage?

I remember meeting a very special client of ours. She came into the store, we acknowledged her, and she felt very special. I said to her, “I love your lipstick,” because she had red lipstick on. We had a little chat and she said, “I’ve been to every shop, and I happened to just notice your window. I really would like to wear something to the races tomorrow, but I haven’t bought anything suitable because I’ve just come from Melbourne.”

So, we dressed her beautifully and I connected with her. I asked if she’d like to see more, and she said yes. She thought everything was lovely and so she bought those extra options too. She said she dabbled in horses a bit and we kept chatting away. I said we should stay in touch and told her to have a lovely day at the races when she left.

Then the next day, everyone was texting me saying, “turn the news on!” and there she was holding the cup – she’d won the Magic Millions! There she was, in our outfit, on the news!

She’s still one of our really precious clients and a dear friend today.

What is it about the Marina Mirage community that you love the most?

Marina Mirage has something that no other shopping centre has – it has beautiful memories for people. People go on first dates here, and then they come to visit with their children, and they still feel connected to it because its romantic. There’s a romance about Marina Mirage that I cherish.

I feel it too because it’s a memorable place. It’s an integrable centre and it’s also a centre that has stood the test of time. It’s the only beachfront, fresh air shopping centre.

Marina Mirage is so dear to me, and it has all of these special qualities that no other shopping destination has – and the waterfront dining is a bonus!

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