“Life isn’t all diamonds and rosé, but it should be.”
FOR BUSINESSWOMAN AND TV PERSONALITY LISA VANDERPUMP, THESE WORDS RING TRUE – IN FACT, THEY’RE HER TAGLINE AND THE MANTRA BY WHICH SHE LIVES. FROM THE RESTAURANTS SHE OWNS, TO THE MANY BRANDS THAT BARE HER NAME, VANDERPUMP BRINGS A STYLE AND ELEGANCE THAT IS IMPECCABLE. “I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT EVERYTHING,” SAYS THE ENGLISH BEAUTY.
While their roots are planted in Beverly Hills, Vanderpump and her husband Ken were living an extraordinary life before deciding to call the west coast home. Together with their two children, Pandora and Max, the family has lived all over Europe. They even lived in Los Angeles for a short period of time (it’s where they adopted Max) before the 1994 earthquake. Vanderpump attributes the experience as the reason she headed back to England. “It scared the life out of me; I’ve never been so terrified,” she says. I could not believe what we had just experienced.”
THE EARLY YEARS
With business still in England, the family settled back into life on an old romantic manor house situated on 100 acres of beautiful land, surrounded by animals and nature. Adventurous by nature, the family also spent time in France, London, Monte Carlo, and Monaco.
“We are impulsive,” explains Vanderpump. “Ken and I have this relationship where we can do anything or go anywhere together. But I’m more of a ‘gypsy’ than he is.”
Even after 33 years of marriage, the couple shares the sentiment that life is about experiencing new things and continuing to challenge themselves. Vanderpump recalls her mother in-law asking when they were going to settle down and have children. “I told her I don’t want to stop playing, I just found someone to play with, and together this is how we looked at life” Vanderpump recalls.
“I don’t want to look back on my life and see that we stayed in the same house, did the same things. I wanted every couple of years to be a new chapter in our lives.”
In addition to owning many successful restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, including the well-known Shadow Lounge in London, fans of Vanderpump might be surprised to know that while living in France, she taught at the kids’ school three days a week. “I absolutely loved motherhood, playing with the children, and being as naughty as them. I loved every moment.”
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
It wasn’t until their daughter Pandora was preparing for college that Vanderpump and her husband began considering their next adventure. “We understood as the children became older that there were windows of opportunity where we could get up and move, but when kids go off to college and make lifelong friends, roots are firmly planted,” she says.
When Pandora was accepted to Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, the family followed, settling into a home in Beverly Park. As protective parents, they didn’t want to be any further than 30 minutes away from her, so they decided to give the sunny climate a try once more.
Upon their return to the states, the couple began considering businesses in which to invest, particularly one they knew something about. A lunchtime visit to a little restaurant named SUR started it all. After a meal and a handshake, they found themselves a partnership and Vanderpump immediately got to work designing the elaborate and beautiful restaurant that today serves as the backdrop for one of her hit TV shows, “Vanderpump Rules.”
From there the couple opened the ever- popular Villa Blanca Restaurant, and in 2014 they embarked on a third establishment, PUMP, located on what Vanderpump describes as the “most pivotal corner in West Hollywood.”
ATMOSPHERE ABOVE ALL
When it comes to designing, Vanderpump and her husband discuss everything. She draws inspiration for the design by considering a multitude of factors, such as the area’s needs and the surrounding competition. As a fan of ambiance-driven restaurants, Vanderpump admits she’s not interested in a restaurant with good food but a horrible atmosphere.
“I’d rather stay home and cook,” she says. “I want to feel that ambiance, see those flowers, feel that music, and eat in a comfortable setting.” Needing all those boxes checked off to enjoy her dining experience, this restaurateur makes certain all of her establishments meet the same standards.
With PUMP, the challenge was a bit more intense, since the space was initially barren. Vanderpump recalls being there every day and thinking, “How can I make this work?” Her vision was to create something unique to the area, and while the planning was “a nightmare,” she was determined to make it visually the most beautiful restaurant in West Hollywood.
BEGINNING OF A NEW JOURNEY
It wasn’t until about five years after returning to the states that Vanderpump was approached for “Real Housewives.” Initially reticent, she had never watched nor had any idea what the shows were about. Already prominent at the time in Beverly Hills, she agreed to go in for an interview but made it clear they wouldn’t be hearing any conflict in her home. The kids never even heard us fight.” Still, Bravo extended an offer.
Unsure at first, Vanderpump knew she had nothing to hide. “I’ve never said take anything out; if I screwed up, then I should learn from it.” Her feelings of uncertainty have all since disappeared, she says, and she’s had great fun being a part of the show.
That’s not to say there haven’t been stressful times, such as in season four when all the women turned on Vanderpump. “I was devastated and had never experienced anything like that,” she says. Feeling low for a few months, she credits her close relationship with both Andy Cohen and Alex Baskin at Evolution Media for helping her navigate through the craziness of those tough times and stand her ground.
“While I wanted to walk away, they persuaded me to stay, and I’m glad I did,” says Vanderpump. “If I had left because a few people tried to make my life miserable, then I would have never come full circle and brought it back to the enjoyment we had in season 5.”
Vanderpump knows that by being a part of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” she has a responsibility to make a good show and open up her life. “What the audience is depending on is your honesty; your reality is what they want to see. Reality is more interesting than any fiction you’ll ever be able to write … you’re dealing with real people’s emotions.”
A CHILD STAR
In addition to owning the hottest restaurants in California and being recognized for the wildly popular Bravo hit shows in which she stars, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Vanderpump Rules,” this isn’t Vanderpump’s first foray into television. A drama student by the age of 9, she starred in numerous TV shows and films when she was just a child. She then continued acting in small roles in shows such as “Silk Stalkings” and “Baywatch Nights,” as well as a few music videos.
HER NANNY’S KINDNESSLIVES ON
Many of Vanderpump’s beliefs around charity were instilled by her beloved Nanny K. She keeps photos and mementos
of her grandmother close by, as it inspires her to live a kindness-filled life. “I loved her, worshipped her, adored her,” she says. “She was an eloquent, articulate woman who lived her life with style and grace. She passed away when she was 100 years old and I squeezed every last minute of good and happy times with her.”
It was in January of 2013 that Vanderpump debuted another reality show on Bravo, “Vanderpump Rules” (she also serves as producer), which focuses on her restaurant and the employees at SUR. Now filming their fourth season, Vanderpump admits that on day one tensions were high and describes the kids as “a bit unpredictable” and “a little naughty.”
Behind the scenes, this successful, multi- talented businesswoman isn’t slowing down. Within the past year Vanderpump started her own line of sangria, LVP Sangria, alongside her daughter and son-in-law Jason. “It was their idea,” she says. “They wanted to bring the best sangria to the market.” While the couple handles the marketing and business end, Vanderpump oversees the aesthetics and the recipe, a staple cocktail that’s been served in her restaurants for years. They currently feature a traditional red sangria, as well as a pink sangria – her signature color – and are working on a white. “They’ve done a brilliant job and are working really hard. It’s all about taking risks and that’s what they’ve done.”
Vanderpump’s love for designing, especially things she enjoys, has led to some wonderful new business ventures. She recently launched Vanderpump Pets, a line of pet accessories, such as the blingy collars her beloved Giggy sports. A portion of all proceeds benefits the American Humane Society.
At the end of last year, Vanderpump debuted a home collection of table and barware, bringing the “bling and glamour” she loves to the table at affordable prices. She also launched Vanderpump Estate Jewelry Collection on EVINE Live earlier this year. The exclusive pieces are elegant and glamorous, all representative of the chic taste Vanderpump exudes. “I’m having fun with it,” she says. “If I could sit down and design everything, I would.”
MATTERS OF THE HEART
Supportive of the many charities close to her heart, Vanderpump is an advocate for not only animal charities, but for those that support the LGBT community and equal rights. She has also served as a spokesperson for GLAD.
Her belief in the fact that people should be judged on their character, not the color of their skin or sexual preference is an important life lesson she’s instilled in her children. “I am an ambassador for change and I want my kids to follow suit in terms of their beliefs in being kind and tolerant.”
In a town where beauty is everywhere, Vanderpump says it’s not so much what’s visible on the outside but the sparkle in someone’s eyes, the passion for life, and the classic elegance. “It’s not about perfection, it’s confidence and polish, someone always ready to see the funny side. I find funny people attractive,” she says.
When asked about her greatest accomplishments – without hesitation – Vanderpump answers, “my two children and my marriage.” And while there are many things that are important to her, family is everything. “I am happiest when I am lying next to my husband, surrounded by pink roses and as many dogs as possible!”
PHOTOGRAPHER: JOHN RUSSO
STYLING: MINDY GURA & PAULA ORLAN, THE STYLE DUO
HAIR & MAKEUP: PATRICK TUMEY
PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE: STEVE VALENTINE AT VALENTINE GROUP PUBLIC RELATIONS