The Gentleman: Nacho Figueras
For more than a decade, Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras has been the face of Ralph Lauren advertising, first appearing in a Polo Ralph Lauren ad campaign in 2000. That led to the Black Label Collection campaign in 2005 and then the World of Polo Fragrances in 2009. Vanity Fair magazine readers voted him the second most handsome man in the world the same year. In recent years, Nacho’s profile has risen thanks to a close friendship he’s developed with Princes Harry and William. The trio plays a series of charity polo matches around the world each year to raise funds and awareness of children’s charities. At the same time, Figueras takes every opportunity he can to promote his passion in life: the sport of polo. He recently sat down with Dave Lackie to talk fragrance, style and polo.
Dave: You believe guys should think of building a wardrobe of fragrances.
Nacho Figueras: In a small way, I feel that I have a little part in what the World of Polo Fragrances has become. When I first started modeling for Ralph Lauren, it was just one fragrance. But now it is a wardrobe of fragrances. There are different kinds of fragrances for different kinds of moods or different things you are doing. And I very much believe in this. If you are in the city wearing a suit and tie at night, a fragrance that is more sophisticated and exotic and even stronger goes well with that situation. If you are at the beach wearing a swimsuit, all of a sudden that fragrance does not suit that moment. I really believe in different moments which has evolved into this campaign.
D: What have you learned about the art of fragrance?
N.F.: A fragrance smells different on each person. It really is a very personal thing. I can spray a fragrance on my skin and it may smell quite different than you because of our skin chemistry. You have to try a scent and see how it works with your particular skin chemistry.
D: What was your first fragrance?
N.F.: When I was eight years old, I begged my parents to buy me a bottle of Polo Ralph Lauren cologne for Christmas. I was so in love with the sport of polo by then that I had to have the bottle with the polo player on it. I remember pointing out the gold polo player on the box to my mother. It was my first fragrance and I still wear it today
D: Have you always been style-conscious?
N.F.: I think I was always interested in style growing up, My parents taught me to always be elegant. But obviously the fine-tuning came with my relationship with Ralph Lauren of course. It’s been ten years now doing the Ralph Lauren ads. I started out working when I was 22, which is right at the time of your life when you start finding your style. He had a lot to do with it. He taught me everything. The most important thing I learned from him is style is not just what you wear but how you wear it. It’s to be comfortable with yourself. For Ralph Lauren, Polo isn’t just a fashion brand, it’s a lifestyle brand. It’s about the guy wearing the clothes or the fragrances. You can have style wearing different kinds of clothes. I could be stylish wearing my suit and tie. And Mick Jagger is very stylish when he wears his t-shirts and leather pants. He looks cool and he feels it.
D: You actually met photographer Bruce Weber at a dinner party hosted by Kelly Klein in the Hamptons.
N.F.: Yes, I owe Bruce for my modeling career. I think he’s one of the most amazing photographers out there and he has a lot to do with my relationship with Ralph Lauren.
D: Describe a typical day in your life.
N.F.: I wake up, I have a mate (which is something us Argentines drink) with my kids and my wife, then I go to the barn and have some more mate with the grooms and I look at the horses. I’ll ride a few if I need to. Then, I’ll get together with my teammates and strategize about what we’re going to do that week with the horses and team-wise and practice-wise. At noon, I go back home and have lunch with the family. If I’m in the Hamptons and the days are longer in the summer, I would go to the beach with the family. In the summer, it is hot so I go back home or stick and ball. The key thing for a polo player is the connection with the horse – not only because it is key to the game but it is because we love them. So I can spend all day long with the horses so I know exactly what they are eating, what they are not eating, how much they are exercising, how much they aren’t exercising. That’s what gives you that edge in the polo field.
D: One of your missions is to promote the sport of polo with everyday people.
N.F.: Oh yes. I don’t think people are aware that polo is something that is out there. My goal is to raise awareness of the sport and get people to try it. First of all, find out where there is a polo club in your neighbourhood. There is polo in Canada! There are a couple of polo clubs in Toronto, there is one in Calgary and a few more in Ontario. Bring your kids to a polo club and if you have a little bit of money ask if they can take lessons. Like any sport today, the younger the better to start. At five or six years old, a child is strong enough to start riding by himself. Riding ability is a big part of the game so it is really amazing if you can start that young. Having a strong connection with a horse and having great riding skills is the key to succeeding in this sport. At around 10 or 11 years-of-age, you are strong enough to ride a horse, swing a mallet and see the ball. In Argentina, kids start playing polo a little younger. My son is 10 and he’s already playing.
D: How do you stay grounded?
N.F.: The way I stay grounded in life is to spend as much time with my family and my horses. The horses don’t care how famous you are. They only care how much you love them. And I make an effort to treat everyone the same. When I play my charity matches with Harry and William, I treat them the same as everyone else. I try to be courteous to everyone.
D: What advice to you have for young guys today?
N.F.: It’s important to find a passion in life and follow it. I was lucky enough to find polo. It changed my life and I get such satisfaction promoting it around the world. If I can introduce a kid to polo and he or she loves it, that is success to me.
D: What do you like to do when you aren’t playing polo?
N.F.: I read quite a bit. There is one book I particularly like called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read that every once and a while. I also listen to all kinds of music. I like the Rolling Stones and Coldplay. I like classical music sometimes when I’m driving.
D: When you look back a the past decade of modeling for Ralph Lauren, what stands out the most?
N.F.: Each campaign really does represent a different period of my life. I can clearly remember what I was doing during each one. And the latest Romance ad campaign is very special to me. My wife, Delphina, and I are riding our horses in the field where we got married. I’m just so honoured that Mr. Lauren chose us to represent his brand.
Nacho Figueras biography
- Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras is a top-ranked athlete who regularly plays charity matches with Princes Harry and William.
- Vanity Fair magazine readers selected him as the second most handsome man in the world in 2009.
- He’s the face of the World of Polo Fragrances and says he’s learned that there are different fragrances that suit different moods or occasions. He recommends a fresh scent for active activities and something a little heavier for an evening out.
- Figueras owes his modeling career to Bruce Weber who discovered him at a dinner party in the Hamptons.
- For his eighth birthday, his parents bought him a bottle of Polo Classic fragrance because there was a polo player on the bottle.
“I think a man should have a fragrance wardrobe for different aspects of his life.”