Polo. Now, whether the word conjures mental images of “The Sport of Kings,” a dapper Ralph Lauren, squinty-eyed model lounging on perfectly manicured grass in front of a grand estate, or just the iconic image of a polo player astride his horse in a full out gallop, no sport is more respected or celebrated as being synonymous with and one of the last bastions of old money and prestige. Of late, there has been a growing fascination with the sport with mere mortals seeking to demystify the rarified air and uber luxurious aura of all things polo and quite expectedly, the elements of the game suggest a heady mix of thundering hooves of horses worth millions, mega rich Patrons (pron. ‘pa- troh- ns’) calmly surveying their country club sized estates, slim sultry women in Chanel or Valentino sipping Campari, and at the center of it all, the polo player himself, resplendent in his short sleeved eponymous shirt, riding pants, boots and mallet, holding the attention of all present.
All said then, polo is neither the sport nor the venue expected when one speaks of inner city non profit organizations seeking to raise money in one of the most challenging economic climates in history, so the recent Land Rover Polo Challenge benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of New Rochelle was both anomaly and triumph last weekend at the Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut. What started as an idea conceived and chaired by BGCNR board member and fashionista Juliet Haynes evolved slowly, then at warp speed into a fully formed, presented, staged, and delivered event that was nothing short of spectacular. In fact, what took place off the field eclipsed the game on the field as fashion, style, decor, cuisine, and over 300 of the most accomplished executives, socialites, business moguls, and celebrities contributed to what’s become the year’s most talked about event.
Co-chaired by Valentino Senior VP and fashion industry icon June Haynes, the BGCNR Committee turned to one of the most prolific and talented event designers, Sabine Poisson, to make the vision a reality. What resulted was Sabine’s translation of that vision into an afternoon of pure luxury as two white tents hosted a three course seated luncheon by celebrity chef Peter Kelly, a Silent Auction with everything from bags by Roberto Cavalli, velvet slip ons from JP Cricket, and a timepiece from Jacob & Co., to the chance to win a bespoke suit from J. Lucas Clothiers valued at over $5,000, pieces from Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander, and many others. Libations were plentiful as two truly well stocked bars featured wines by Voga and Undurraga, champagne by Piper Heidseck, and a variety of juices and softer beverages completing the offerings and for those who preferred to be au natural, water from Acqua Panna kept everyone fully hydrated.The all white environment inside the Silent Auction tent (complete with white turf underfoot) was masterfully done, accented by white equestrian themed installations (white feathers and ceramic horse heads), Bauhaus inspired leather tufted couches, ottomans, and chairs while auction items were mounted on white lucite cubes. The J. Lucas bespoke corner was perfectly positioned with mirror topped tables reminiscent of the Art Deco era and twin high chairs also in white leather while the entire side of the 80 foot tent was opened up to reveal the expansive playing field in all its green majesty.
I could wax on about just how phenomenal the event was! Traditional polo fashion was evident with navy, red, seersucker, cotton, linen, hats too numerous to count, and at least one gent who rocked a classic navy blazer with a white linen shirt, knee length madras plaid shorts, and slip ons. With white wine in hand, the look was eclectic with camera shutters taking notice. Of course, luxury brand ad agency (and Outfluenced parent company) Cirqus 6 sponsored the event as did Pepsico, X-Tige PR, Land Rover, Agua Enerviva, Sabine Poisson Event Design, and We Are Events while event/fundraising pros like Paula November, Cory and Richard Gould, Tracy Lasher, Susannah Pask, Kate Stoupas, and others moved logistical mountains to do in 8 weeks what usually takes 12 months. The longshot of it all, is that while all who attended had fun, the event itself raised much needed money, awareness of the needs of the children in New Rochelle and all over the country, commitments from corporate America, and individuals to do more to support the efforts of the organization in the months and years to come.
We strongly advise that if you have a design, sartorial, gastronomical, or sport related DNA sequence anywhere in your body, get your name right now, on what’s sure to be a very coveted list for next year’s Polo Challenge! Just remember that we’re ahead of you in the line!