I Had Breakfast with Nacho Figueras

The Argentinian athlete had a macchiato. I had a lesson in polo and more

Dressed in jeans, a graphic tee, and a fitted navy blazer with espadrille shoes and a shark-tooth necklace to match, there he was. My breakfast date. Nacho Figueras.

It’s not every day that I break bread with polo’s equivalent to David Beckham, so yes, I was happy to sit down with the athlete at Joan’s on Third. Over a single macchiato, Figueras, who is in town to play in and promote the 5th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic happening this Saturday, opened up about his day job, modeling for Ralph Lauren, and L.A.’s sporting history. Here’s what I learned:

Despite what you think, the sport of polo is about more than attractive men on horses. But it is exclusively for James Bond types
“That’s the problem,” Nacho said. “People think we are playing and we are not sweating and that horses are just horses. Polo is a sport where you can die. Horses are going 50-55 miles an hour. When you are playing polo you are risking your life everyday. Although there is some kind of elegant factor to it, it’s a real sport and it’s very dangerous. It takes a lot of effort, practice and hard work. It takes as much as preparation other sports and is much more dangerous than any other sports.”

Angelenos used to love polo—and they still do
Polo in Los Angeles was very popular in 1920s and 30s. Five years ago, when we had the first Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Will Rogers Polo Club, we wanted to have an event to bring awareness to that polo field and to raise money to make sure it remains as a polo field. Angelenos have responded very well. The first couple of years it was a little bit slow and now tickets are sold out. People love it and want to come back.”

Figueras likes to keep things simple (and sweet)
“My daily style involves jeans and a T-shirt. My favorite pieces in my closet? A jacket—I always have a jacket. And a cashmere sweater, jeans, and good espadrille shoes. My wife gave me a silver cross necklace when we got married. I always wear that.”

Ralph Lauren, for whom Figueras models, is a role model and boss rolled into one
“I admire him. I respect him. I like him very much. Not just as a business leader, but as a person, father, and husband. He’s become a real inspiration for me. He told me he never did the company for the money. He had a dream and a vision for making the brand. He put a lot of effort and hard work and it all just started to happen. I think that’s a great example. He could do that because he really loved what he was doing and was passionate about it. It was never about the money.”