Romancing the Armpit
The intoxicating scent of personal 'perfume'
London, 2016: Bompas & Parr hosted the world’s first armpit-sniffing speed-dating night – a revolutionary yet somehow primal platform for coupling up.
In contrast to conventional speed dating nights, our musky lotharios donned a paper bag to mask their faces, leaving potential lovers to identify their suitability to romance using smell alone.
The science behind the approach lies in pheromones – the aromatic attraction compounds secreted in our sweat. Our body odour is largely influenced by Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules, which are genetically determined and linked to the immune system. Experiments have shown that opposites attract: we tend to judge potential sexual partners as more attractive if their MHC composition is different from our own.
There were no rules on cleanliness and coiffure: all smell levels and hairstyles were fair game. Every participant smelled each other – using nosing cones – before grading their reactions on cards, leaving hosts at Bompas & Parr to partner up matching pairs to see if the sparks would fly.
The evening’s libations were designed to get guests sweating - hosted at Bompas & Parr's Alcoholic Architecture bar, the formula for its alcoholic cloud was updated to play homage to the first recorded alcohol-based perfume, formulated at the command of the Queen of Hungary. The exact date and who created it is debated – the original recipe combined distilled rosemary with brandy.
Photography by Nathan Ceddia and Daniel Resende.