By Christine Yeh
If anyone should be crowned flea market queen, it’s Lara Spencer. A contributor on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and frequent celebrity correspondent on the red carpet, Spencer has authored several interior design books and is best known for creating and hosting HGTV’s hit show “Flea Market Flip.” An expert in transforming vintage finds into cherished pieces for the home, she has curated a “flea market fabulous” lifestyle adored and emulated by her growing fan base. This gift for reinventing vintage combined with her love for color, bold jewelry and an admiration for iconic Hollywood stars has led to the creation of Tura by Lara Spencer, a new eyewear collection for women. Spencer chats with 20/20 about her passion for vintage items, the inspiration behind her eyewear collection and even shares some tips for shopping at flea markets.
20/20: What do you love about eyewear, and what inspired you to create an eyewear collection with Tura?
LS: The folks at Tura told me they love my “flea market fabulous” world that I live in—between my show “Flea Market Flip” and the books I have written, it’s all very real and it’s the way I was raised—my mom had a champagne taste on a beer budget. They loved the idea of a vintage-inspired collection, and that’s what you’ll see in this collection—a modern take on some really classic vintage shapes in both the optical and sunglass styles. When I first visited the Tura office, I loved seeing their vision and seeing pictures of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren in the ’70s, and we really drew inspiration from these iconic stars and the sunglasses and eyeglasses they wore, and put the Spencer spin on it.
How does shopping at flea markets influence your personal style?
I grew up understanding that you don’t need a lot of money to have great style. My mom had great taste and style, and taught me that—we didn’t have a big budget but we always enjoyed exploring fleas and tags on Long Island. It helped me understand how to get creative with shopping—how to take something vintage and modernize it.
Describe some of your favorite vintage eyewear finds from flea markets.
I love flea markets for inspiration when I’m looking at design—whether it’s sunglasses or interiors, flea markets are my starting point of fabulous creativity. I love the shapes of vintage eyewear and modernizing them. While I am not typically a CatEye person, I find so many CatEyes at the flea so I knew I wanted to bring a modern feeling to an old-school shape. We reinterpreted a vintage CatEye shape in our frame style LS112. The original CatEye frame was aluminum, but we updated it in acetate and added studs reminiscent of a Tura vintage frame. The “Studded Cat” is now one of my all-time favorite optical frames in the collection.
I also love vintage aviators and have always worn them. Style LS505 is a sportier aviator with a retro windsor rim. Style LS504 was inspired by a vintage Tura frame and therefore is much more retro glamorous with the crisscross bridge. I wear both of these styles everywhere.
Tura’s been around for 80 years so they understand the spirit of the collection and how to take something from the past and make it new. The collection is sexy, fun and eye-catching!
“Flea Market Flip” focuses on reinventing something old into something new. Do you have a favorite item in your home that you reinvented from a flea market find?
There’s this painting I found at an estate sale that I treasure! It’s a pop art rendering—not quite Andy Warhol but it has that same feeling to it. I paid $200, and it’s been appraised at $2,000. Not exactly retirement money but I absolutely love it, and it makes me smile every time I see the bright colors.
Whether it’s your home or a friend’s, which room in the house is your favorite room to decorate with vintage treasures?
That’s too tough to pick! I will tell you that the older I get, the cleaner and simpler my taste gets so every room in my house has that feeling to it, and vintage adds to that authenticity—it’s a great way to create a home that tells a story.
It can be overwhelming for someone new to shopping for their home at flea markets. What are some of your tips?
Flea markets can feel overwhelming if you are new to them. There is so much to see, and it’s hard to know where to start. I like to give myself time to go through each aisle and booth twice. It’s amazing the different things you’ll see on your second lap! I do believe in the adage “early bird gets the worm.” It’s peaceful to casually stroll the aisles before it gets too crowded. Always ask the vendor or dealer the story of the piece you are interested in—where they found it, the age and history—and of course, what their best price is. Haggling is absolutely OK. Being rude is not. I suggest being polite and asking if they are willing to negotiate—with kindness you will find you almost always have success. And if you see something you love, and you are comfortable with the price, don’t wait! Buy it! Flea markets are not like retail stores. They do not restock shelves. Most of the things there are vintage and one of a kind, so go for it!
You’re known for being the ultimate bargain hunter. What defines a bargain at the flea market—something that is dirt cheap, or pricey but worth its value?
Flea market finds and bargains are all in the eye of the beholder. What seems like a gem to me, might look like junk to you. That’s the beauty of it!
We love that you can get down and dirty at a flea market in casual jeans and a T-shirt, and the next day be on the red carpet looking so glamorous. Which part do you feel you’re most in your element, or do you benefit from the best of both worlds? How do you think that translates into eyewear?
I love that I get the opportunity to dress in spectacular gowns and jewels every once in a while, but my true self is the girl you see at the flea—a great pair of jeans, Golden Goose sneakers, a cozy sweater or jacket and navy aviators from my collection. I think my eyewear reflects all the sides of my style perfectly. There are shapes that are sporty, and some that are elegant and sleek—three words I definitely use to describe my style at different times!
Who is the Tura for Lara Spencer woman—when she wears your frame, how do you want her to feel?
She’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves and dig in, and go for an adventure. But she can also turn it up at a black-tie affair. I want her to feel like the best version of herself—she can rock a great pair of glasses and then throw on a great pair of shades, hit the flea market and then hit the red carpet and know she is looking spot on.
You can now add eyewear designer to your resume. Do you want to design anything else besides eyewear?