Nacho Figueras Tells Us Just How He Looks So Good

1Photo: REX USA/MediaPunch Inc
Anyone who's ever watched a polo match or flipped through a fashion magazine knows Nacho Figueras. Or, more specifically, they know his face. The Argentinean athlete basically embodies "tall, dark, and handsome." But while there's no denying that he's a total hunk, he's also one of the most successful polo players of all time and a dedicated family man. To put it bluntly, he's not just a pretty face. Luckily for us (and now you, dear reader), Figueras made a stop in the Big Apple recently to promote Hispanic Heritage Month and Ralph Lauren's new Polo Red cologne (for which he fronts the campaign, of course). We sat down with him to rack his brain about his glamorous jet-setting, his life on the polo field, and what it's like to have Ralph Lauren as your personal mentor.

Tell us a little bit about what draws you to working with Polo.
"I've been with Ralph Lauren for 13 years. I met Mr. Lauren when he felt it would be a good idea, through Bruce Weber, to start using a polo player for the ad campaign. I grew up admiring the logo obviously, since I grew up playing polo, so at the time I thought it would be great to do some things for Ralph on the side, so that's how it started. It's been 13 years, and the rest is history. You know, I also say that I don't think that I work for a brand, I work for a man that I respect very much. And what I like most about him is that he's not just a successful businessman, but he's also a great man and a great father and a great husband."

What is it like working with Bruce Weber?
"I'm very spoiled, because my first shoot ever was with him. So that's it, it's not that I'm working with 100 brands or doing photo shoots for everybody. I'm a polo player, and every once in a while I go to a shoot with Bruce for Ralph Lauren, so I'm very spoiled. It's almost like I don't know anything else, but I know enough to know that he's a great man and very talented."

What do you find is the most challenging thing in your career as a polo player?
"It changes a lot. When you're young, you don't look at things that you do when you're getting older. I'm a little bit past the middle of my career now, and just recently I had a very bad accident, where I broke my hip. It just happened, and it was one of the hardest things that's happened to me. When I was laying down, and knew that something bad had happened, and not really knowing what I was going to feel like after, that was a tough moment."


What are some of the most important things you've learned from playing polo?
"First of all, horses teach you a lot. I think horses bring out a lot of great things, mainly responsibility and the fact that they care about you no matter who you are or where you come from. A horse really gives you everything. And then teamwork, obviously, and hard work and dedication and focus. I think mostly every sport at a high level requires a big effort and a lot of discipline, which is always good."

And your son is now playing, right?
"My son is 13 now, and he's playing quite a bit. He's getting to play more and more."

What kind of hopes do you have for him?
"I don't have 'hopes' because it's not good to put a lot of hopes on a 13-year-old kid, but right now I just want to support him and give him everything he needs. And, you know, teach him whatever I can teach him, and for him just to grow up having fun. He's right at the point where the next few years he's gonna have to get a little tougher, but I don't want to push him if it's not the time yet. I love the fact that he plays and that he likes it, but it's gonna be up to him."

You travel so much with your career — what are some of your favorite places that you've been?
"New York is definitely one of my favorite places, I've been coming here for a long time and it's very special for me. Punta del Este in Uruguay is a beach that's really fun and great, and I love going to new places and meeting new people and seeing different cultures. Last year, I went to China and I thought it was great, I've been to Dubai. I like the mix. I still have never been to India or Japan, which I would love to see."


What do you miss most about Argentina when you're on the road?
"Well, my family comes with me so I don't have to miss them. But, what I miss is the farm, my horses that I breed, the people that work with me at home. And of course always your bed, your pillow…you always miss your pillow, I don't know why."

What do you recommend to someone going on a trip to Argentina? What are some of the must-dos?
"I think Buenos Aires itself is a fantastic city. It's very European and an amazing place on its own. And then the rest of Argentina is so varied, so you have rainforests, waterfalls, you have mountains, the glaciers. It has many, many different places. The Iguazu Falls are amazing, and there's a place in Salta that has a mountain with beautiful colors, and then the glaciers in the south are things that you don't see very often."

How do you think that growing up in Argentina, and your Argentinean heritage, influences you today?
"In many ways...obviously my career and my passion for horses and polo have a lot to do with who I am, and then also my Latin core is also very important. We Latins tend to have a very specific way of being, with family and friends. I'm still in Argentina a lot, so I'm very influenced by it."

What kind of routines do you have while you're traveling to keep yourself looking and feeling good? Besides wearing your Polo cologne, of course…
"Wherever I am, I'm playing polo. I'm training and riding, so I have quite a healthy life. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I eat healthy in general, so it's not like I have a routine of five hours at the gym or having to run 20 miles. It's not anything really specific — I try to exercise as much as I can and be healthy."


How has life changed for you since becoming a father?
"Before and after is everything, it's huge. You have to really become a parent to know exactly what I'm saying, but I was a father when I was very young, only 22. When you have a kid your life changes completely, it's not about you anymore. So I think that being able to have a family so early in my life gave me a lot of focus and now things are about my family and the kids and I have to work really hard. In my case, it changed it for the better."

What values from the polo field do you hope to impart on your children?
"Most sports generally have amazing values for children, that's why sports are so important. Polo in particular, it's going back to horses — horses require a lot of responsibility. When you're young and taking care of your pony, you learn what they need, and that's very important in teaching respect. It's a great thing for kids to learn. And then polo requires teamwork and effort and practice — the saying that practice makes perfect is so true. You don't get lucky, you have to work hard."

When you come to New York, what are some of your favorite things to do while you're here?
"I go to the Hamptons a lot, so I love the beach and the kids always have a great time. In the city itself, when we're here with the kids, we love the park and go to the museum and the theater. It's such a great place.


Who are some of your favorite designers to see during Fashion Week?
"Well, obviously Ralph, I'm very biased. As I said, I respect him very much and I think I'm very much influenced by everything he does and the lifestyle that he dreamt up some 40 years ago. You know, he had a vision and a dream about a lifestyle which is very similar to a polo player's life."

When you're going to fancy events, how do you get ready or pick out your outfits?
"I'm a really lucky guy, I have a good wardrobe of suits and things, and I have a wife that gives me a direction if I'm doing something wrong."

While you're a star yourself, you often find yourself hobnobbing with other celebrities. Do you ever get starstruck?
"No, I'm a really lucky guy because I live a great life and I do what I love, which is wonderful. So no, not really. You know, I always find that when I meet these great people that are successful for whatever reason, you find that they all have a very similar footprint. They're all humble and great people and I think that's the best part about my opportunity to meet so many people."

What are your goals, or what's next for you?
"I have a very big breeding operation, which is the thing that I love doing the most, and a big passion of mine. So, the goal would be to see that breeding operation get to be very successful. I'm still getting to the point where it's mature enough for things to start happening, so just seeing that through. And then, using polo as a platform to help others is something that's very important to me. When I'm not playing so much polo professionally, I'd like to see if I can pay more and more attention to philanthropy."