Professional polo champion Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras, 34, is the face of the World of Polo Fragrances, a collection of classic scents for men from Ralph Lauren. Given how long he has been playing--he started at the age of nine in his home country, Argentina--you might say that polo is Nacho's life. He started his professional career at 17 and hasn’t looked back since.
Nacho has played against England’s princes William and Harry in Great Britain’s Sandhurst Tournament. He was also asked to donate his polo gear to the American Museum of Natural History’s 2008-2009 exhibit, “The Horse.” He currently plays for Neil Hirsch’s Black Watch polo team in Bridgehampton, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida. Ranked as one of the top 100 polo players in the world, Nacho has been called the "David Beckham of polo."
Even Oprah is charmed by Nacho Figueras and his passion for polo.
Nacho was also voted by the readers of Vanity Fair in June 2009 as the second most handsome man in the world, with No. 1 being Robert Pattinson and No. 3, Brad Pitt. He began modelling for Ralph Lauren as early as 2000. In 2005, he was chosen to be the face of Ralph Lauren Black Label in 2005 and in May 2009, he became the image model for the World of Polo fragrances, including Polo Black, Polo Blue and Polo Modern Reserve. President of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Guillaume de Lesquen shares that Nacho is the embodiment of the Polo man. “When he isn’t playing polo in the world’s most prestigious tournaments and promoting its heritage as an ambassador, he is sailing with his young family off the coast of Punta del Este, Uruguay, and breeding horses on his ranch outside of Buenos Aires.”
Nacho was in Manila recently as a guest player at the Aguirre 2011 Gold Cup and delighted fans and admirers alike with his charm and charisma. Read on and learn more about Nacho and his dedication to polo. Scroll through the gallery below to see the latest ads for World of Polo fragrances featuring Nacho.
1. How did you develop your passion for polo? Did you start riding horses at a young age?
"I started riding when I was nine. I grew up with horses: my father loved them, and my best friend played polo, so I decided to learn the game."
2. What inspired you to become a polo player? Was there a person who mentored or encouraged you to get involved with the sport?
"I always wanted to be an athlete. My passion for horses, which I developed thanks to my father, inspired me to become a professional polo player. My mentor was Gonzalo Bieres, who is considered as the godfather of polo."
3. What makes a great polo player?
"I believe there are a few key elements necessary to be a great polo player: the first is the love and passion for horses, considering how much time one player spends with them. To be a great player, one also needs to practice a lot. Furthermore, the game requires great eye/hand coordination."
4. What is your training/exercise? How do you train for polo?
"Training and practice are key for me. I ride two to three hours per day. This is the most important part of my exercise, as no other exercise can substitute that. To be on top of my game, I have to tune the horse for the match like the race car driver tunes his car. In addition, I often run and do gym stretches and weight training. Furthermore, to improve my eye/hand coordination, I practice hitting the ball."
5. What are your favorite aspects of the sport of Polo?
"My two favorite aspects are the horses, as my profession enables me to cultivate and nourish my childhood passion, and the teamwork, since the four members of a polo team have to be extremely connected and synchronized when playing a game."
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Nacho Figueras in Polo commercials and on the runway.
"I strongly think Ralph Lauren is a great leader. When I talked with him about life, I realized that he was so human and envisioned the world, his life, and his work with all his heart and strength.
"During our conversations, I was able to relate to him. Ralph Lauren inspires me. I hope I will be able to do the same with the sport of polo as he has done with fashion. I admire his recognition of family and how he puts [them] first. I consider him as a mentor."
7. How would you describe yourself in the World of Polo Ads?
"The Polo (Green) fragrance to me symbolizes traditional values like family, which I embrace. The Polo Blue fragrance is the perfect fit for a sportsman who loves the sea and sailing. Polo Black embodies the man who lives in the city, enjoys art and music, and wears suits and ties. I can relate and identify myself to him and this lifestyle."
8. Are you a city person or a country person?
"I consider myself a country person who loves the city. I spend most of my time in the country, mostly to be with my young children, who enjoy being outdoors and with my horses. Because I am not able to do those things in the city, I see myself as a country person, even if I always enjoy spending time in the city."
9. What are your feelings toward fragrance? What role does fragrance play in your life?
"Fragrance smells play, in general, an important part in our lives. We only have five senses that enable us to perceive our environment, so by taking our sense of smell away, we would take away 20 percent of our world’s perception.
"I think that fragrances and smells have two important roles in our lives: they tell a lot about a person or a personality, they become a part of them. Furthermore, we always associate fragrances with specific moments of our lives, hence transporting us back in time. For instance, the Polo Green Fragrance reminds of the time when I was 10 years old, and when I wear it now it makes me feel like a grown up."
10. Fragrance and the sense of smell are often closely connected to memory. Are there scents that evoke strong memories for you?
"Being in the country when it is raining is always a good feeling. Argentina is a large agricultural country, and the rain is a blessing that the grass will grow and that the crops will be successful. Therefore, the smell after the rain, especially in the country, is a key scent for me."
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Nacho Figueras on his passion for polo.
11. When do you wear fragrance?
"I wear it all the time."
12. Who are the professional athletes you most admire?
"I admire Michael Jordan as a sportsman and, as a brand, Lance Armstrong because he is a charitable man, and David Beckham.
"I am a sport freak and I particularly enjoy watching golf. Furthermore, I always root for teams that have Argentinean players."
13. How did you meet your wife?
"We met at a polo game in Argentina that we were both watching. Because I did not know her at the time, I had to ask her cousin about her."
14. What interests do you and your wife share?
"We share lots of interests, like horses, art, photography, architecture, and traveling."
15. Would you consider yourself a romantic?
"Yes, I do."
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16. How do you spend your time in the off-season?
"What is the off season? I am always playing polo. Whenever I have a little free time, I go to my farm, work with my horses and ponies, and handle the breeding operations. I also like to spend time with my family, and we often ride all together."
17. What kind of music do you like?
"I like different types. I like to listen to classical music when I drive because it puts me into a focused state of mind. I enjoy tango because it is a strong and emotional Argentinean musical type that I grew up with. I am also a big fan of the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and Frank Sinatra."
18. What is love?
"Love is the feeling that you cannot live without them. I feel this way towards my wife, children, and horses."
19. Are you interested in cars? Where’s your favorite place to drive?
"I like classic cars like a vintage Mercedes: I consider them as pieces of art/sculpture. I like driving on a coastline. The never ending road along the sea gives me a sensation of freedom."
20. Would you have dreamt of being the Polo guy?
"It is an honor to be the face of the World of Polo and feel so lucky that I lead a life that correlates to the philosophy of the fragrances."
Want to read more about the men of Ralph Lauren? Check out this article on FN: