Photography by Ben Fink Shapiro
On location at the St. Regis New York
In a 2011 ad campaign for Ralph Lauren Romance, Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras and his wife, Delfina Blaquier, steal a kiss while horseback riding through a field of tall grasses. In another, equally dreamy image (shot by none less than Bruce Weber), they sit on the ledge of an open window, arms draped on each other and gazing into the idyllic void.
Yes, the series of photographs was designed to depict the passion between two people and, therefore, promote a romantic fragrance. But in the case of Nacho and Delfi, the images weren’t acted or conceptualized—they were an authentic representation of their relationship, every day and in every way.
For Nacho, 39, an iconic polo player and a spokesmodel for Ralph Lauren, two things matter above all: polo and family. His passions and accomplishments have blossomed because of the woman he calls “an amazing mother and a great friend.”
“Most of what we have achieved, we have achieved together,” he says. “The roots are so deep. That’s what has allowed us to be so happy for so long.”
A photographer who chronicles her family’s nomadic life following the polo ball around the globe, 36-year-old Delfi knew Nacho was her soulmate when they met in 1998. At the time, their common bond was horses: He was a young polo player; she had grown up in an equestrian dynasty and learned to ride as a girl at her family’s estancia outside Buenos Aires.
Today, horses figure just as prominently in their lives. Their four children—Hilario, 17; Aurora, 12; Artemio, 7; and Alba, 4—all ride or play polo. Delfi photographs horses, portraying their beauty in abstract forms. The Figueras farm in Buenos Aires houses Nacho and Hilario’s pony strings and a breeding operation.
It’s more than a passion, Delfi says. “It’s in our DNA.”
Below, polo’s most famous couple talk candidly about their lifestyle, giving back, and the true meaning of beauty.
PBI: You’re one of polo’s most recognizable ambassadors. What does the sport mean to you?
NF: Polo is my life. It’s my family’s life, too. We’re kind of like these gypsies going around the world playing polo. We follow the sun, so a third of our year happens here in Palm Beach. You wake up, you go to the stables, you practice. The kids ride horses and play. The wives go to the games and ride with us. It’s a lifestyle that takes over your life.
I love that you share that lifestyle with others on social media.
DB: I started the #wearefigueras hashtag on Instagram two years ago, and my friends wanted to use it for inspiration on what to do and where to go with kids. What you see on Instagram is more than a pretty picture. It reflects the way we live. It’s a beautiful lifestyle in an imperfect way.
You’ve become famous as a Ralph Lauren spokesmodel. How do you balance that with your work on the polo field?
NF: I don’t think that I’m a model. I’m a professional polo player who has been the face of a brand for 16 years. But I’m very passionate about bringing the awareness of polo to a different level, and obviously the Ralph connection has given me a lot of tools. Being interviewed and having my photograph in so many magazines or airports around the world gives me a lot of recognition. I take it as a big responsibility to use that recognition to promote the sport that has given me so much.
You also raise awareness through philanthropy, most notably as an ambassador for Prince Harry’s Sentebale. Talk a little about your relationship with Harry and the charity.
NF: I first met Harry in 2006, at a polo match in England, and since then I’ve been playing polo with him every year. As an ambassador for Sentebale since it started, I’ve been to Lesotho two times with [Harry] and seen firsthand the things this charity is doing for kids who need a better platform in life. Harry is someone I admire and respect very much. He’s very committed to what he does. He’s full hands-on: the first to wake up, the first to raise the bar, the first to say, “Something’s wrong with that. Let’s fix it.” His commitment inspires me to get involved. I try to put my little grain of sand to help him.
You’ve both been making strides to bring polo to the masses. Why is that important to you?
DB: Nacho will be very happy when kids go to a polo game instead of a baseball game. He created that amazing Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in New York and L.A. and will bring it to other cities. We try to bring polo to the people. Eventually, it will bring density to the game.
How does your breeding operation complement your love of horses?
DB: We’ve been breeding a little over 10 years. We got genetics from the best players and started creating our own curation of bloodlines. We handpicked every single combination of mares with stallions and then came out with all these quality ponies. We wanted to do an homage, so we created these stables where we can showcase our precious bloodlines we have collected all these years. Sometimes we sell, but we are quite small to be selling a lot of ponies. We wouldn’t have enough to mount ourselves.
You are considered one of the most beautiful couples on the planet. What is beauty to you?
DB: For me, beauty is not something you can see; it’s something you can feel. What captures someone else’s eye is your confidence, your self-appreciation, how you care about people. Your skin will get wrinkled, you will get spots or scars, but if you keep laughing the way you did when you were 20, that will make you eternal.
NF: The outside beauty rubs off very quickly. Eventually my hair will grow gray and I will have more wrinkles. But what never goes is what you have inside.