The mysterious Goti: Black Essence and pinning down Opoponax

I am always looking around for a good bargain and just the other day I found a good offer for the very last bottle of a fragrance and label I had never heard of: Goti. The fragrance was on sale in a downtown Athens clothing store that also which features exclusive brands and a medium sized collection of fragrances like Nez à Nez, some Comme des Garcons, Patika, Acca Kappa, Penhaligon’s, Geo F. Trumper and left overs from their previously carried lines like Miller Harris and the elusive Goti.

Riccardo Goti is a modern jewellery designer for which I haven’t been able to find much on the internet, and much less for his three perfume releases, Black, White and Earth. There was one blog post from 2008 and some listings from exclusive shops. It appears Goti commissioned none other than Unknown Perfumers of Santa Maria Novella to create three perfumes that would interact with the wearer’s skin to the maximum to produce a highly personal sillage of essence and skin chemistry. The packaging of black is minimal and enigmatic. A simple rectangular bottle, no logo, no title, in a black pouch, nested inside a black leather box sealed with a leather mini belt and a hand written tag with “black”” on it. Although it is very minimal it supports claims I read that it is “the most posh perfume”, perhaps not to the full but with a grain of salt.

The scent itself is actually very intriguing. It has the Santa Maria Novella old world vibe. It starts with a very fresh top of bergamot and mint mostly. The mint is very cooling but doesn’t stand off as minty. Lavender notes add a gentle blue hue to the opening accord. And hear comes the intriguing part: the top notes last long, a good half hour. All you get is a fresh, natural cologne. And then some amber kicks in and the composition takes a whole new turn. It starts sweetening up with vanilla and the warm glow of opoponax. It is really impressive how the sweet notes remain hidden somewhere for a good half hour without any trace of them being obvious and suddenly take over completely making this a chameleon of compositions.

So this not only was this  a good buy (I got it at 60% discount) but it also helped me pin down what opoponax is in a fragrance. It is a sweet herbal note that bares some resemblance to immortelle. It is not as heavily spiced but it gives you the same feeling of walking in the country and rubbing a twig between your fingers to see what it smells like. It is resinous and sweet at the same time and adds a ray of sunshine to fragrances.

I would not characterize Goti Black Essence a “black” fragrance. The Santa Maria Novella stamp is all over it and this means that it is radiant, a bit cologne-y at start and with a velvety base. This is the SMN style. And the use of top quality natural ingredients. But it is a satisfying scent, especially if one loves opoponax as I do. And very long lasting!

Notes from here:  bergamot, mint, jasmin, black pepper, lavander, musc, vanilla, patchouly, opoponax and amber.

Notes from my nose: bergamot, mint chewing gum, spice rack, vanilla, opoponax


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. anotherperfumeblog

    What an awesome find! I like many of the Santa Maria Novella fragrances, but have never heard of Goti. This sounds like an interesting fragrance. Anytime I see mint listed as a note, I tend to perk up, because I’m always hoping for a perfect sweet mint fragrance.

    • This is a discreet sweet mint at the opening with the bonus of very long lasting top notes. It is also very interesting to watch the impressive switch to the base notes.

      The label is quite obscure but I would love to try the other releases as well. I am a big SMN fan myself.

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  3. GeM

    Wow, how revealing. You both (Christos and Natalie) get access to some unbelievable and unexpected brands I’ve never heard before! I wonder where to find them!

    I’m huge fan of SMN, too. They opened their store in Barcelona city many many years ago, before the Internet (when all was darkness, ha!) and I have been exploring them for about 15 years or more now.
    I don’t mind what the perfumista community thinks about most of the SMN’s smells. I will love them forever: even when their scents are just low or moderate-ranked, they are far superior to much of the of the things you will find in the market. They are old fashioned, old school, old spice. But that’s really part of the point: that leans to its heritage. So rather than something that is unique or that adds some kind of originality to my wardrobe, I mostly look for tradition and guarantee of quality when I’m checking their fragrant and sumptuous products. History and authenticity is what it is, and whatever that is related to that, it simply works…! I simply enjoy wearing their colognes spontaneously and naturally, probably more than I could enjoy to wear the most desired unconventional Perfume/Dress For One-Night.

    What should make life enjoyable is the day-by-day, because it is the real treasure we hold.
    In the past I used to believe in Lennon’s quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, but not anymore.

  4. efi

    I come to Athens often. Since i consider myself a perfumista in evolution……, i beg you on my knees to tell me in which downtown shop you find these brands. I travel from Thessaloniki and i can’t find the brands i used to find in two little shops at Kolonaki. They reduced their products maybe because of the crisis. I wanted to find from Santa Maria Novella “Garofano” or “Opoponax”. If you could help me, i would bε grateful. Γεια.

    • Γεια σου Efi. Nice to see you dropping by! You can find Santa Maria Novella products in a pharmacy in Kifissia but they do not have testers so have to know what you are looking for. Only last week a friend told me that there is gallery in Makrygianni area near Acropolis that carries the line and also has testers. I will ask the details and post them here. I found it! In the mean time you can also check for a more detailed list of places you can find niche perfumes in Athens here. Some things might have changed as the crisis has affected the market which wasn’t very developed to begin with.

      I bought Goti at Shop, in Ermou street, close to Thiseio. It carries several lines as well.

      Have a wonderful New Year!

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