It’s been 17 years since Victoria’s Secret Model Inés Rivero spread her wings on the VS catwalk, but now, the beauty has something else up her sleeves. Trading in the runway for the polo field, the former mod is now lending her skills to polo (as in the horseback game), one of her favorite ways of staying active. After participating in the Beach Polo World Cup at W South Beach, we had to get the scoop on this new phase in her life. Take it away, Inés!
Ines, how’d you get into riding?
I got into riding not by choice. My father was a polo player so I grew up in that environment. At the time I was growing up, it wasn’t really a choice for women to play polo but I did get to ride a lot. The sport is now very welcoming of women. It was later on in life that I actually learned the sport.
When did you officially start playing polo?
I took my first lessons around 12 years ago in Millbrook, NY, where I had a house. In an attempt to go back to being close to horses, I decided to try jumping. It really took me back to my childhood. For some people staring into the ocean represents something, but for me it’s about getting onto a horse. It gives me that moment of connection with nature. Jumping is a beautiful sport, but for some reason it didn’t feel natural to me. But last summer I was there and I met some people who were involved in polo. A couple friends gave me tips, but not real lessons, and I loved it. I remember every time I’d go home after riding, I had a smirk on my face. Then I moved to Miami, and eight years into living there it never occurred to me to ride because of the heat. I just couldn’t imagine being on a horse in that weather. But eventually I started taking polo lessons and then finally began playing.
Were you always sporty growing up?
I’ve always been very attracted to high-adrenaline sports. Anything I challenge my body and my mind to, I do. When I drive up to Wellington, where I ride now, I’m usually driving up with the stress of whatever’s going on in my daily life and am usually not relaxed. But on my way back I usually drive slow and I start smiling again. It gives me a certain amount of adrenaline that I need and it gives me that connection with nature. It’s magical for me.
Pre-polo, you modeled in NYC. What was it like being a VS Angel in 1999?
At the time I went for my casting for Victoria Secret, I had really no idea this company was so big and that it could have such an amazing impact on my career to be a part of their crew. This I believe was very important at the time because otherwise I would’ve been very nervous and probably wouldn’t have gotten the job. Once I began to work with them, I realized I was part of a family. It’s like having a clan that’s watching your back. I loved it. In 2001 I got pregnant with my daughter, so that’s when I retired from the show. I continued to work for Victoria’s Secret, but I didn’t continue being an Angel anymore.
What was one of your greatest memories from that time?
One of the memories that has stayed with me was the trip we did to Cannes, France for the Victoria Secret show in 2000. I remember they chartered the Concord and that was just impressive for me…not just any plane, the “Concord”. They painted it with the VS logo and the colors. We wore leather jackets with our names on them…it was a mega-production. When we got there, not only was the VS Show about to happen, but also the Cannes Film Festival was happening. We went with Tyra, walked the red carpet and the whole thing. I mean, it was like a movie.
Who in today’s world of models impresses you most?
There are so many beautiful girls out there right now. I love Joan Smalls. I find her to be so beautiful. I like how Gigi Hadid dealt with her weight fluctuating. I’m very happy with this generation of models because they have a lot of pressure right now since they have such a voice. Models always did, but now it’s becoming more evident. They have access to social media and so many channels to put their voice out, which I didn’t. It’s a big responsibility and an amazing way for them to market themselves. They’re able to make a lot more money and reach out to more of their targets. I’m really happy for them.
What else are you working on now?
I’ve always worked with Techo, which is an organization that I’m completely dedicated to. I host fundraisers in Miami and am hosting one this January in Cartagena. I’ve taken a group of kids to build homes in Bonne Terre which was an incredible experience for me. Those are some of the solid projects I love working on.