I’m Polly Technic (aka Melita White), an Australian perfume enthusiast, composer and musician, a synaesthete, fibre artist, cook, a lover of animals, food, colour and nature and all good things that engage the senses. A couple of years ago I fell in love with fragrance. One sniff of Guerlain’s legendary Shalimar turned my world upside down. I was repulsed, excited, intrigued, and delighted, all at once. “No!” I thought to myself. “It cannot be!” The fact that this masterful, contrary creation even existed seemed impossible. But it did. It was the oddest, most beautiful cultural artefact I had encountered in a long while. In Shalimar I had discovered an olfactory work of art for the first time, and all the synapses in my brain fired off simultaneously. Not only had I discovered Shalimar, I’d discovered a new art form, one based on the sense of smell. As a professional composer and lover of art in all its forms, I was caught by surprise. I’d never even considered the existence of an art form based on the sense of smell. But there it was, plain as day: a whole new art form. A world was opened up to me. Thanks to a chance encounter with Shalimar, I was yanked firmly by the nose down the rabbit hole and into the fantastical world of scent and all it entails.
Since that time, I’ve sampled and sniffed furiously and got giddily caught up in the addictive purchasing of perfume after perfume. After a while, feeling both bereft of purpose and over-fed, I weaned myself off this addiction by starting a perfume appreciation group called For Love Not Money. In this group we explored and appreciated perfume, but we never discussed buying it; we explored all the other aspects of the fragrant world in our discussions, of which there are many. I think of For Love Not Money as the precursor to this blog, which will be a solo exploration of topics I want to immerse myself in. And what are these topics? I will craft a curriculum on the fly, but right now, the science of perfumery, how to create perfume, and the use of fragrance in conjunction with other art forms, are high on my list of things to learn about.
I’ve made some very good friends on this fragrant journey: people with large, encyclopaedic perfume collections, and even larger hearts. Perfume people are an interesting bunch: creative, sensual, and almost always generous. I’ve learned a lot from these friends, but I find my appetite voracious and I want to learn more, hence this blog.
There is little that I love more than learning. I have spent most of my life at school or university and have been a music educator at home, in schools and at university. Some might think that after twenty-two years of education and the same amount of time teaching others, I would be sick of it all. But no: you see I figured out some years ago that the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. The deeper I delve, the more knowledge expands. It’s infinite and I’m greedy.
And so, with this greedy, voracious appetite, I want to dive much deeper into perfume. I want to read and research and write, and I want to share it all with you here in this blog. Perfume Polytechnic isn’t a place where I pretend to know everything already and carry on like an expert, because I’m not. It is a place for sharing what I learn, with you. I hope the ride will be as interesting for you as it is for me.
For those of you interested in my musical adventures and work as a composer, please visit melitawhite.com.
Melita’s piece At the Intersection of Taste and Smell: Aftelier Perfumes’ Cepes and Tuberose was named one of the top submissions at the inaugural Perfumed Plume Awards For Fragrance Journalism in April 2016. Visit the Perfumed Plume website for further information about all the finalists and winners, and links to their articles.
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