Bars & Pubs

Ms Collins Opens on Collins Street

By Stephen A Russell - 26 Mar 2014

Ms Collins will welcome fools gladly as she throws open the doors to her kooky mansion on Friday 28th March, with Collins Street's newest venue promising a celebration of all things music, food, art, design and fashion in one big party.

A great white horse hangs upside down over the impressive entrance, with the beautiful limestone building that once housed Silk Road stripped back to its stylish bare bones, all ornate chandeliers and marble surfaces. A vast black, multi-level structure sits inside this shell, daubed with a riot of pink and white paint and neon lighting, with intimate spaces tucked in every corner.

Co-owner and international DJ, Simon Digby, will take over the glass DJ booth suspended above the central neon pink bar every Friday night. Part of the brains behind Roar Projects, the outfit behind Dockland's Alumbra, Digby drew on the rich imagery of the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette for the concept, designed by Blackmilk Interiors, as well as the underground vibe of the Panorama Bar of Berlin's infamous former power station-turned-club, Berghain.

"What we loved about this building is the high ceilings and the limestone walls," Digby says. "I think that got lost within the old fit out. I was looking at fashion houses in Europe; these high-end boutiques with beautiful old architecture that's juxtaposed with a contemporary fit out."

Describing Ms Collins as an intersection between food, art, music, drink and fashion, it also has a futuristic feel to it that Digby says harks from one of his filmic favourites, Bladerunner. A podium sits up front with 'Ride My Pony,' scrawled in pink on the black wall behind it. It's dubbed Ms Collins' dressing room, but rather than play host to go go dancers, he sees it as a performance art space that will feature happenings like live poetry readings. "We want it to be a bit unpredictable," he says.

A sheer curtain hangs on the towering back wall, splattered within Damien Hirst-like sprays of paint created with the help of a fire extinguisher. A large golden bust of a proud warrior has been drenched in the trademark white and pink paint. There's an irreverent feel to the place, with various cheeky neon artworks that are bound to raise a few eyebrows. "There are a lot of talking points," Digby admits. "It's very playful."

Ms Collins will morph during the course of the day, with a separate room up front housing two vintage barber chairs, where guys will be able to sip on an espresso while having their locks shorn in the afternoons. In the evening, the hair will be swept out and it will transform into a cocktail bar. There's also a Dom Perignon champagne bar, and plenty of tucked away black leather banquette seating with under-lit tables, perfect for a post-work drinky.

"People can come in for a business meeting during the day or a cocktail after work that might flow into a bit of food then, after nine o'clock at the end of the week, the volume will go up and the lights will go down," Digby says, with a club culture taking over on Thursday and Friday nights.

The modular design of the space, aided by directional lighting, allows areas such as the raised dance floor to be thrown open or cordoned off for private events, or just to make the most of quieter evenings.

Ms Collins' open-plan kitchen forms a theatrical statement to one side of the main bar, with booth seats stretching its length and a glass cabinet running between them. The menu features a handful of dishes each from Jacques Reymond, Huxtable's Daniel Wilson, Pierre Khodja and Ricardo Momesso, while the bar will be stocked with a unique range that includes some top notch Scotches, cognacs and tequila.

"You have to have a good concept and bring the right people together," Digby says. "Linking passionate people is what I do."

And as for his DJ sets? "That's the hat I love wearing most."

Ms Collins opens Friday 28th March
425 Collins Street in Melbourne
Tue – Wed: 4pm 'til 11pm | Thu – Fri: 4pm 'til 3am

Image Credits: Tash Sorensen, The Urban List.

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