Perfume Directory

Arden Men - Sandalwood (1957)
by Elizabeth Arden


Arden Men - Sandalwood information

Year of Launch1957
Average Rating
(based on 69 votes)

People and companies

HouseElizabeth Arden
Parent CompanyRevlon Inc > Elizabeth Arden Inc
Parent Company at launchElizabeth Arden

About Arden Men - Sandalwood

Arden Men - Sandalwood is a masculine fragrance by Elizabeth Arden. The scent was launched in 1957

Arden Men - Sandalwood fragrance notes

Reviews of Arden Men - Sandalwood


The vintage Arden Sandalwood begins with a soapy blast of lavender, supported by a dry clary sage/geranium note. A bit of bergamot and lemon around the edges. Not a whiff of sandalwood in olfactory sight. As such it is quite dry, refined and sophisticated. Had it been named Lavender instead of Sandalwood, I’d proclaim it an immediate hit.

But wait, there must be more. There are all those base notes: Cedar, Patchouli, Vetiver, Moss, Amber, Musk, Tonka, Labdanum, Opoponax, not to mention Sandalwood itself. Where are they?

Patience. They do eventually emerge, but all in jumble – a pleasant one, albeit, but I don’t detect the single note of sandalwood anywhere. The base notes simply support and deepen the lavender. As such it is a fine fougere, fragrant and subtle. It just needed a name change to bring it up to snuff.

03rd May, 2019
Elizabeth Arden was locked in a 3-way battle royale with Estée Lauder and Charles Revson (Revlon) throughout the mid 20th century, as all three American cosmetic companies vied for the same upper-midlevel market segment that shopped at places like Macy's, Dillard's, Filene's, Hecht's, Bon Marche, etc. throughout the 20th century department store boom. During all this infighting, it was decided that they should all enter the men's segment with toiletries and fragrance; an area traditionally left to barbershops, apothecaries and dedicated perfumers for well over a century, but proving more lucrative as evidenced by fashion design houses already setting foot in that market. Elizabeth Arden would be the first into the market with a slew of masculines between 1956-1957, under names like Citruswood, Eau de Cologne Traditionale (probably a nod to Farina and 4711), Sandalwood, Oakwood, and No. 450. Charles Revson would simply one-up all this effort a year later with a single fragrance called "That Man", named after Arden's derogatory designation for him, while Estée Lauder would bide her time even more, eventually launching a whole separate company division with the house of Aramis in 1965; I believe she ultimately got the last laugh. Arden's efforts here can be seen as probably the most hurried and least invested, as most of the selections in the original Arden for Men range supposedly build on single notes but don't often smell like the name on the bottle suggests, as is the case with this. Unsurprisingly, almost all the varieties in this initial line would survive only a short time, and the Elizabeth Arden company would never make another masculine fragrance under it's own line again, going the route of buying or licensing lines from other designers in need of Arden's impressive logistics.

Sandalwood seems to have survived as the strongest of this series, and it's for good reason; despite not really smelling much like the sandalwood promised on the bottle, it comes across as a floral and dry chypre with a creamy finish, an aromatic citrus scent with the warmth of sandalwood that holds it's own against the great examples made by French houses in this period. Revlon's competing "That Man" may have ultimately been the more focused and distinct of the two, but the earlier Arden for Men Sandalwood is definitely more complex, which is ironic due to the single-note construction it's name otherwise suggests. Sandalwood opens with the expected lemon and lavender, sage and bergamot; these top notes are almost taken for granted in a mid-century men's chypre, but while they have the expected urinous quality, they don't pierce the night quite like some others from this period. Instead, the heart of cedar, vetiver, patchouli, herbs, and geranium comes up fast to replace what is otherwise a subtly pissy opening with an airiness that eventually leads into the namesake sandalwood. True fans of sandalwood would undoubtedly give up long before the eponymous note comes out to play in this, so it's definitely more for an open mind interested in an interpretation of sandalwood via classic perfumery than a direct extrait of the stuff. The base also has your typical chypre name-dropping, with labdanum and moss, musk, amber, and special guests tonka and opopanax making the track listing. It's woodsy and very refined in the dry down, becoming a rather satisfying, smooth traditional gentlemen's scent, just only suggestive of it's primary accord rather than screaming it.

The scent continued to be made throughout the decades and sold right up until the mid 2000's where Arden finally gave it the axe, it was popular mostly in Europe where classic fragrance is still valued and competes more fairly with current releases, and it's last production runs can be found bearing "Made in Italy" on the bottles. The entire Arden for Men line seemed to be aimed at the less-knowledgeable working stiff of the 1950's who wouldn't think to fact-check if the scent in the bottle matched the name, which is expected from the age of Yoo-Hoo pseudo-chocolate and Kellogg's Apple Jacks which are apple in name alone. Contrary to the disingenuous marketing, it seems the nose behind this had half a mind to make the most of the situation and turn this into a decent "dapper gent scent" that stands tall alongside French greats like Monsieur Givenchy and Chanel Pour Monsieur. Yeah, it's not full of nearly as much distinctive character as those, and comes across a little remiss to folks seeing it's name and looking for a stronger sandalwood presence than something like Chanel's Égoïste (1990), but what you get is a pleasantly classy aromatic chypre surrounded by the typical dryness of the period and a unique woodsy glow that adds a tad of sweet warmth to an otherwise pale masculine. It's the ultimate sleeper cologne: dressed down on the outside, and dressed to the nines once sprayed on skin, just don't tell anyone it's supposed to smell like sandalwood.
25th December, 2017 (last edited: 21st February, 2018)
My current version (2007), while not a bad scent, has been an expensive loo freshener. Sharp, strong and not worth the effort if the primary interest is sandalwood.
22nd June, 2016
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
Vintage Arden Men Sandalwood was an amazing fragrance--refined, masculine, old-school in the best way and really rather sexy. Given the numerous notes, this is clearly not a single note sandalwood fragrance. Sandalwood is there throughout, but it is sandalwood in the abstract. Sandalwood all dressed up in a fine man's cologne. It is so finely tuned, so balanced between exotic and expected, staid and sexy, traditional and progressive (for its time) that the only other scent I can compare it to is the excellent Dunhill for Men form 1934. They both smell of well dressed, well heeled, well appointed gentlemen and are timeless, despite both being so old school in their structure. I am told that the reformulation is a travesty and I cannot bring myself to smell it for fear of being devastated. Possibly the best thing from this house, along with the late, great woman's scent Bluegrass.
04th February, 2015
It's OK

I bought this looking to explore sandalwood as a single note. Unfortunately, this is as related to sandalwood as fettuccine alfredo is to Italy. What you get instead is a pretty standard fare, generic old school edc. It's light, barbershop opening, then a simple woods and spice combo that relies on your skin's natural musk to carry it along...which suggests it would be a hit on the right skin, just not mine

I use my bottle to add that certain old school flair to modern day frags that are too 'today' for their own good. Cool Water Deep plus this is a beauty I find hard to resist.

Pros: Defines old school, good reference scent
Cons: Where is the sandalwood?

30th June, 2013
Swanky Show all reviews
United States
Old School to the bone - bone dry, that is. Denizens of the barbershop era of men's colognes: Brut, Aqua Velva, Jade East, et al will recognize the DNA of Arden's sharpish lavender-sandalwood accord. Apart from the hint of lemon, I don't get much more from this than those notes. No problem. It's 1957 and Frank's singing "I'm A Fool To Want You" on the turntable and the fire's roaring away in the fireplace. And Kim Novak's taking your tie off...
21st March, 2013

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