Lifestyle Interview: Nacho Figueras

The Face of the Tenth Anniversary Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

After a 70-year absence the Polo Classic returned to New York by way of Veuve Clicquot and world-renowned polo player Nacho Figueras in 2008. Saturday, June 4 will mark the 10th year at Liberty State Park with an event that has grown to include an entire day’s worth of festivities. Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris with a live performance by Alicia Keys, The Classic is a champagne-fueled affair that embraces the sport of polo and supports the idea that a glass of bubbly is not only meant for celebratory occasions but also should be enjoyed for everyday moments.

Nacho Figueras, who has been a co-host of the event and played in the previous nine matches will once again be assuming those roles for the 10th anniversary. He is perhaps the best-known polo player in the world and has also earned familiarity as the face of Ralph Lauren. Figueras brought NYC Monthly up to speed on what to look forward to this year, how to dress to impress, and where to embrace the sport year-round.

For people unfamiliar with the sport of polo, how would you summarize it in three words?

When most people think of polo they often associate it with being an elite and exclusive sport, which is something I have worked hard to change throughout my career. Making polo a more mainstream and accessible sport is an important passion of mine and has been supported by the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic over the years. To me, polo can be summarized into these three words: majestic, thrilling, and unifying.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. How has the day evolved from that first event?

We are very excited to be celebrating this incredible milestone, and I feel honored to have been able to be a part of this event since the beginning. It was actually after a 70-year absence that Veuve Clicquot brought polo back to New York for the first Polo Classic in 2008.  It initially started out as an intimate gathering of about 250 people, but has evolved and consistently grown over the years and now brings more than 9,000 guests an unforgettable afternoon of polo and champagne.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

This year’s polo event will set the stage for years to come, and Veuve Clicquot is offering tons of new, exciting experiences in celebration of the 10th anniversary. I am, of course, most excited to see Alicia Keys perform following the polo match this year. I can’t wait to hear her sing “Empire State of Mind” with the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty behind her. I know it will be an unforgettable moment. 

Why do you think New York is the perfect place for this type of fête?

New York brings the sport polo to such an unexpected place. It’s pretty incredible that you can take short ferry ride just across the Hudson River to Liberty State Park, watch a thrilling polo match, and then return to your bustling city life in just one afternoon. It also allows us to bring polo to a group of people that may have never experienced it before.

What else do you like to do when you’re in the city?

New York is one of my favorite cities, and we always have to visit a few go-to spots while we are in town. My wife Delfina and I love to have dinner at The Polo Bar; the food is amazing and it’s a great atmosphere for a date or gathering with friends and family. I also always enjoy exploring Central Park. It’s a great place to bring the kids and get some fresh air. We also like to stop by any new exhibits at our favorite museums.

While the match is at the center of the day’s activities, how else should spectators get into the spirit of things?

The excitement of the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic begins weeks in advance of the main event, and there are several ways that people can start celebrating this year’s 10thanniversary all around NYC. Veuve Clicquot will have a fun pop-up at Brookfield Place where visitors can stop by and enjoy a glass (or two) of Veuve Clicquot champagne. If you are looking for the perfect outfit for the main event, Saks Fifth Avenue uptown and downtown will have designated areas with displays of the latest looks ideal for the match. The uptown location also has a full bar serving Veuve Clicquot including the exclusive La Grande Dame champagne. If you still haven’t had enough, one of my favorite rooftops in the city—Mr. Purple – will be serving Veuve Clicquot Rich, the newest champagne cocktail that you pour over ice and mix with fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs. We are also lighting the Empire State Building the night before the event in Clicquot Yellow.

You’re one of the most recognizable faces of Ralph Lauren’s clothing and fragrance line, so we must ask: what should the well-dressed man be wearing for The Classic?

While I’m most comfortable in a casual tee shirt and some blue jeans, this event is a great opportunity to really bring out your best duds. Polo always provides an amazing display of fashion and style, so you can’t go wrong with a light-colored suit or fresh blazer, a colorful bowtie, and maybe even top it off with a great hat. But I always say wear what you like and when you feel good, the best always comes out.

If at the day’s end we’ve found ourselves falling in love with polo, how do we keep the feeling alive the rest of the year?

There are lots of ways to enjoy polo throughout the year in New York and around the country. The Greenwich Polo Club has matches throughout the summer season and is only a short car or train ride outside the city. Also, you can check out the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, Los Angeles that takes place every October at the historic Will Rodgers State Park. It’s an incredible setting for a game of polo in the California hills and another opportunity for new and old polo enthusiasts to enjoy the sport and a breathtaking champagne-filled afternoon. You can also visit the United States Polo Association to find out where to enjoy polo all over the U.S.