A Milliner A Week - Pegi Lea

This girl is fun to be around! She’s an inspiration. She reminds you that we’re all here to live our best and most authentic life we can. Her story will explain this, and her vibrant, bold and daring millinery is a perfect reflection of this Novocastrians’ history, personality and zest for life.


Pegi Lea (aka Niki Lee Williams)

What a stunning girl! And what a character!

I had the pleasure of sharing a room with Niki in Melbourne for the Cup and I wore two of her headpieces during the Spring Carnival in Melbourne. She has great energy and knows how to have a laugh. She’s keen for new knowledge and enjoys meeting people. She also knows how to work with someone and get things done. She’s always striving to do her best and is looking for ways of improving herself. Needless to say we got along great!

We took a cab Oaks day and we were stuck in traffic running a little late! I was putting my skirt on in the back of the cab…Niki took a fun video clip to ease the tension…..(**Having a moment trying to upload the vid!**)

As a person, Niki is an inspiration. Her mother introduced us and when I visited her home to look at her work and to commission her to make me a bespoke piece, I spotted the Aussie Mohawk in her craft room. When she told me that it hadn’t yet been worn I told her I simply MUST wear it to the Melbourne Cup! As I got to know her over the ensuing months I learnt her amazing story. She told me how she cheated death at the age of 19 when she was involved in a horrific car accident. She came away an amputee, having lost her right leg as a result of being trapped in the car. Her focus, when telling the story is on the fact that she lived. The fact that she lost so much blood the paramedics and doctors told her she likely had none of her own blood left in her body due to all the transfusions she’d had. Her emphasis remains on the visitors from the firemen, police and paramedics who explained to her that they didn’t think what she’d
been through was survivable. Having met her I can understand how she of all people survived the unsurvivable. She’s a tough, no-nonsense Aussie chick whose amazing positivity is awesome! She handles her situation with a “get-on-with-it” attitude. You’d never know she only has one leg when you meet her, I believe that’s because she doesn’t dwell on it. She is such an inspiration that the hospital uses her as a counsellor for other young amputees. Her headpieces I wore are some of her first forays into millinery and I believe that with her drive and passion she’ll soon be the next big thing!

Lady Ga Ga recognised her strength, positivity and great self-body image when she tweeted this picture all over the world!

Ga Ga on the right and Niki on the left with her blinged up prosthetic leg!

Niki takes the hand she’s been dealt in her stride. Her sense of humour about her situation is priceless. She told me a story about heading out to one of Newcastle’s local pubs and after a few drinks, she was walking to the next social stop when uneven ground caught her and her prosthetic leg out. “I went down like a stack of cards and my leg went flying into the air and landed in shrubbery! I was screaming through laughter, my leg, my leg, get my leg! These two guys came sprinting up to me to check if I was Ok. I think they thought my real leg had gone flying through the air”. She tells the anecdote through peels of laughter.

 Imagine this flying through the air and landing in a bush…Hahaha!

She’s an untrained milliner, who can see something and work out how to do it. She has her own raw style and her creativity is unhampered by artisans trained skills and techniques. She sees things that I am amazed by but she just says “I could do that” and then she goes away and does it. I love this about her. She’s new, she’s different and she’s going to bring something incredible to the Aussie racing styles in the years to come.

I loved wearing her signature pieces:

The Aussie Floral Mohawk I wore Melbourne Cup Day

Asian Orchids I wore on Oaks Day

Many have asked me how I went in Fashions On the Field. I made the Pre-liminary finals twice which I’m proud of. But the most important things I took away from my trip was my new friendship with Niki and all the press coverage her designs revealed. I can honestly say her mohawk headpiece was the most photographed millinery of the carnival. How satisfying!!!

Some of our printed press coverage

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