On a sunny Saturday afternoon this past weekend, Julia Roberts was dressed in polka dots, waiting for a polo match to begin. It may sound like a scene straight out of the 1990 film “Pretty Woman,” but nearly 30 years after she donned that iconic brown-and-white polka dot dress for her star-making role, Roberts was wearing a modern, navy Michael Kors ensemble. (The actress forwent the white gloves, hat, and heels in favor of a white belt and sensible flats.)
“I’ve never been up here. It’s so beautiful,” Roberts said, surveying a perfectly manicured field at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, one of the last remaining polo fields in Los Angeles. The Oscar winner (for 2000’s “Erin Brockovich”) was on hand for Veuve Clicquot’s annual Polo Classic, which pulled out all the stops to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Yellow umbrellas were scattered throughout the general admission area while a massive white tent was erected for Southern California tastemakers and Hollywood’s elite, including Kirsten Dunst, Regina Hall, Christina Hendricks and “This is Us” costars Mandy Moore and Justin Hartley.
“This is part of our community,” Roberts said, referencing the landmark’s rich past, which includes Walt Disney, Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable playing polo at the field in the 1920s. “That’s the thing about Los Angeles,” she said, noting its “truly deep history that you’ll find, especially as it relates to my business.”
Because Roberts’ iconic “Pretty Woman” polo scene was actually shot at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Roberts hadn’t seen these greens before and looked forward to letting loose. “I thought it would be fun,” she said. “I haven’t seen any polo playing since I was at work wearing polka dots.” She laughed. “A typical Saturday, I am sitting at a soccer match, where all the rest of my family is right now.”
The Polo Classic is a family affair for many guests, including Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras who often plays alongside his wife, Delfina Blaquier. The two have been involved with the event since its inception in 2010.
“Ten years ago, we dreamed about bringing the glamour of polo back to Hollywood and to Los Angeles,” said Figueras. “I was having drinks at the Polo Lounge and I saw a picture of two guys playing polo behind the bar and I said, ‘Who’s that?’ The photograph was of Will Rogers and Darryl F. Zanuck.”
The affair has grown considerably, from approximately 2,000 Angelenos in 2010 to more than 7,500 this year. It’s also evolved on the polo field, with the teams being evenly matched with two women and two men competing. While Blaquier attended for years, she didn’t begin playing opposite her husband until 2015. “We felt like it was time for more women to get out there on the polo field,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to show that we can do it as well and inspire girls.”
The sporting event has also become a major moment on the fashion calendar. This year, outfits ran the gamut from bright floral sundresses (Busy Philipps, Lea Michele) to equestrian-inspired plaid suits (Kaley Cuoco in Missoni). No surprise, many guests — like Hartley’s wife, Chrishell Stause, and influencer Louise Roe — paid homage to Roberts in polka-dot ensembles.
“Twinsies!” Roberts said upon spotting another guest in a similar look. She was surprised to learn of her sartorial impact. “It would never have occurred to me, honestly,” she said. “Meeting Nacho was such a thrill. He said, ‘Thank you for what you’ve done for the sport of polo.’ I was just gobsmacked when he said it.” She said she chose her “comfortable” look in order “to have a sense of humor and lean into my polka dots.”
Will Rogers’ great-granddaughter Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry said she appreciates that Veuve Clicquot’s involvement has helped breathe new life into the public park. “It’s great because it continues his legacy,” she said, noting that a portion of the event’s proceeds help maintain the polo field and the upkeep of the park’s hiking trails.
Florence McKoy and Kevin Humphrey of Carson purchased general admission tickets for $90 each after learning about the event on Instagram two years ago. “I was going to come last year but I had to sell my tickets because I had to work; so it’s our first year,” said McKoy, clutching a Champagne goblet while standing atop a grassy hill. “We definitely plan on coming next year, but I want to let everybody know — wear flats, not heels.”
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