About us

Our Story 

Established in 1984, Modes has been dressing New Zealand women for every occasion. Whether it’s a striking gown for that upcoming black-tie ball, corporate function, awards evening, mother-of-the-bride or groom outfit, school ball, resort wear, or any special occasion, our clients are confident they will find the perfect outfit and the matching accessories in one place. Modes stocks several European luxury labels in our new Bridal store. Including European couture designer gowns from Atelier Pronovias, Nicole, Maria Coco and more. Modes Bridal features a sumptuous array of options for the classic, chic or urban bride who want an exceptional yet surprisingly affordable wedding dress on their special day.

Recently Modes was awarded the People’s Choice award at the Newmarket Business Awards, and was a finalist for the Most Sustainable Business award and winner of the Vend 2015 New Zealand Retailer of the year – “a well-deserved and popular choice”.

Customers have been coming back to Modes for nearly 40 years, and it is not uncommon to dress 3 generations of women for the same event. Confident and loyal, these clients know their perfect outfit will be waiting for them, no matter what their budget, size, style or special occasion and are always greeted with a familiar face or at the very least, a warm and welcoming smile.””

“The wedding dress is the last remaining vestige of haute couture. We are the heirs of this tradition and from our atelier we will continue to make the dresses of Pronovias, faithful to the savoir faire the company is known for”

Alberto Palatchi – Pronovias

Meet Diane Stephenson

Diane is the founder of modes and is a fashion mogul, serving her loyal customers at modes in New Market for 40+ years. Diane has gotten to where she is today as she knows fashion and she knows her customers, her hard work, honesty and integrity is truly inspiring. She is the past president of the Newmarket Business Association and established the mainstreet program. Diane’s pet peeves are what she describes as ‘transient’ fashion, ‘fashion victims’ and slavishly following what celebrities are wearing. 

How did you get involved with Fashion?

I originally started out as a science and math’s teacher but the education system wasn’t providing the essential information that life requires. After 5 years incredible years of teaching I had a scholarship to go to university where I learnt in my science degree an appreciation for the environment and how everything in nature and business is linked by “consequence of action”. A university job with an excellent florist developed a good eye for colour and proportion. After travelling overseas I knew I wanted to start my own business and make a substantial change in the New Zealand fashion industry and provide women with sustainable ethical and quality products. New Market seemed like the perfect central location and of the 5 fashion stores that sowed the seed for the iconic fashion industry on Broadway Modes and smith and caughey are the only “survivors” and were recently celebrated at a lovely black tie dinner for the “Newmarket Legends”

All the products we carry are in some way exclusive to us and although the range is diverse the quality is consistent. Regular trips to the suppliers and over to their workrooms ensured that our collection was well adapted to the New Zealand market.

Who Inspires you? 

People who have integrity and taste. My inspiration for going into business was my Father, who taught me: ”things were only simple to simple people” and “to do anything, do it right”. As a result I went into business with my eyes open and still have many of the same suppliers, staff and clients that I began the journey with, 40 years ago. Many have actually become personal friends and even though some of them have retired recently one of our staff members Fred immediately got bored so he’s re-joined our team to help the girls over ball and wedding season. One day we will all retire together as we really are like one big very diverse family. 

How do you assist someone with finding the perfect outfit? 

It’s essential to ask the right questions: everything from the type of event, timing, budget and style. It also helps being able to assess size and shape at a glance so that the correct sizes go into the fitting room – it’s incredible how many people actually don’t know what size they are. It’s also interesting that 80% of what we sell is actually selected by us, not the customer, so a bit of experience clearly helps. We look carefully at peoples colouring, even when it comes to shoes and jewelry. We make sure that everything is age appropriate. The secret is making the client look and feel great and this ensures they and their friends, daughters, colleagues return, hence the longevity of the business. 

Modes Bridal and Modes Eventwear are now both at 26 McColl Street, Newmarket.

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