NEW YORK — It’s starting to get cold in Argentina, so Nacho Figueras is happy to head to America. He’s also eager to be able to celebrate a milestone — the 10th anniversary of the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, an event he founded with the Champagne brand in 2008.
This year’s event will be held at Liberty State Park in New Jersey on June 3 and will boast Neil Patrick Harris as host, a special performance by Alicia Keys, and Jordan Fisher of the cast of “Hamilton” singing the National Anthem. The anniversary will also see a couple of high-profile special-edition products: Fendi will install a pop-up shop where it will offer a special Fendi x Veuve Clicquot bag charm in the Champagne brand’s signature yellow collar that will retail for $400, and Hublot has created a watch.
Tonight, Figueras, the famed Argentine polo player and longtime face of Ralph Lauren, will host an event at the Hublot Fifth Avenue flagship to commemorate the anniversary and unveil the AeroFusion Chronograph watch. Only 10 of the watches are being made and they will retail for $17,700.
“When we started in 2008, polo hadn’t been played in New York since before World War II,” Figueras said. “To be honest, I didn’t think we’d hit this milestone, but once we started, we saw the potential of the event and how people responded.”
For the first four years, the event was held on Governor’s Island, and when it moved to Liberty State Park, Figueras was worried that it might have trouble attracting attendees. But thanks to the park’s “majestic views of the Statue of Liberty and the powerful New York City skyline, it actually gave us a big boom.”
From the beginning, Figueras said the objective was “to make this the most anticipated day party in New York. It opens the summer season and people always look forward to the event and celebrating the sport with friends. And it’s really become a place to dress up.”
Although many Americans were unfamiliar with polo when it started, he said they’ve educated themselves and now embrace the sport. “They come back every year,” he said. “It’s like a Superbowl party for polo with sport, music, celebrities, picnics, dressing up.”
Figueras, who will play in a match during the event, said for the first time this year, the game will be live-streamed so that people outside of New York City “can get a taste of the event.”
Figueras, who has been an ambassador for Ralph Lauren for 17 years and is known for his good looks and classic style, said the fashion aspect of the event is “special,” but he admitted that he doesn’t actually pay attention to who’s wearing what when he’s competing.
“I play polo all over the world all year round,” he said. “And I don’t look around or pay attention to anything else.”
The Veuve Clicquot event adds a whole other element since he’s a co-host. “When you’re hosting a party, it’s not the most fun. I get nervous because I feel responsible for everything and I also want to win. But I do see the pictures later and I love that people really make an effort to dress up.”
The event also serves as a fund-raiser for Keep a Child Alive, a nonprofit organization that supports children and families affected by HIV, in addition to Friends of Liberty State Park, an organization dedicated to keeping Liberty State Park a free, green and noncommercial urban waterfront oasis.
Figueras expects that these tie-ins and the celebrity participation will bring the Classic to another level. “With all these cool brands that are participating, this event has legs. Hopefully we will keep it going another 20 or 25 years.”