“It’s one hour of pure adrenalin. You forget all problems, it’s an incredible moment of pleasure. You can’t cheat, you can’t play simply because you want to show off. It’s fast, it’s dangerous, it requires 100 per cent intense attention — and that’s why I love it.”
Raphael le Masne de Chermont — the recently appointed chairman of the heritage-rich artisan shoe brand CASA FAGLIANO — is referring to polo, the sport he’s been playing since he was 14 years old. The professional player (who is also the chairman of the Longines Hong Kong Masters, and former executive chairman of Shanghai Tang) is just as passionate when talking about Casa Fagliano as he is about the sport.
“When journalists used to ask me questions like ‘What would you like for Christmas?’ I’d always say a pair of Casa Fagliano boots. Honestly, that was always my answer. They’re the Rolls Royce of polo boots; the magic name in the industry. They’re worn by Prince Harry and Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Figueras. In the World Polo Championship in Argentina last year, you have all the best players in the world. In the final, seven out of eight players were wearing Casa Fagliano.”
In the World Polo Championship in Argentina last year, you have all the best players in the world. In the final, seven out of eight players were wearing Casa Fagliano.
“So when I finally had the time to go ahead and get myself a pair of Casa Fagliano boots made-to-measure in their atelier in Buenos Aires, I met the whole family,” he continues. “In Argentina, people welcome you into their shop like a home, invite you to lunch. The opportunity allowed me not just to discover how fantastic the Fagliano family is, but to also start a conversation about joining forces and expanding their knowledge above and beyond polo boots, into urban shoes and alpargatas, which are the loafers everybody wears in Argentina. Polo boots are quite thick, because we need to protect our legs from the shock of the game, so when you get down from your horse you’re not going to walk in your polo boots because they’re very heavy. Players remove their boots and put on their alpargatas. We made Casa Fagliano’s alparagata loafers in suede in eight colours — they’re sleek and simple in design.”
Of course, alpargatas aren’t limited to being worn pre-and-post polo games. “I wear the marine aqua blue pair with jeans, or the chocolate brown pair with a casual suit. I’ll wear them with or without socks, depending on the weather, but usually with thin socks, and even with my suit,” says Chermont.
This is one way to bring polo chic to the streets. “It’s true that polo boots and white jeans are very elegant,” says Chermont. “A lot of my friends would say ‘I love your polo boots, can I buy them?’ And the reply would be, ‘Yes you can, but if you’re going to be wearing them on the streets you’re going to be looking a bit odd,’ which is why we started making urban boots and loafers. Typically, polo players will wear white jeans and a jacket with a pair of loafers for casual-chic occasions. Of course, no tie — a polo player looks ridiculous with a tie! Usually because he’s got long hair, so he looks better with an open collar. The winter in Argentina is cold, so players also tend to wear these very cool beanie hats. The polo look is one that’s never over the top.”