Paul Sebastian's Design For Men has the worst of both worlds: it's both reviled and ignored by most perfume consumers. It has a hideous gray box that screams out, "Cheap Loser Cologne Inside!". It seems the only place you find it is in bargain bins at places like Marshalls, selling at dirt cheap prices. None of this helps its image. I know because I used to hate this fragrance. I even wrote a brutal review of it on basenotes.net.
I'm going to have to go back and revise that review. I actually bought a 3.4 oz. bottle of this on super clearance for only $5, and I figured at that price it was worth giving Design a second chance. I'm glad I did. Now that I've had the opportunity to actually wear Design For Men, as opposed to just sniffing a spritz on the back of my hand in the store, I realize that this is a good scent. This adds another strike against Design For Men, since you won't know what it's like wearing it unless you buy a bottle first. It's not like you can just take off your shirt in the middle of TJ Maxx and spray yourself down with this.
What I like most about Design For Men is that it has that quality I value so highly, namely balance. Balance exists when all of a perfume's various notes work together to create a seamless accord. It's a quality that is harder to acheive than you'd think, considering how many fragrances I've tried that don't reach that state of equilibrium. It's a quality I see lacking in a lot of expensive niche fragrances. Balance is the quality that makes a fragrance comfortable to wear.
I'm not going to wax on and on about how comfortable it feels to wear this cologne. I'll just say this: when I spray this on, everything just feels right. It has a calming effect on me, because all of its notes feel like they're right in place, so I don't feel like I'm fighting with the fragrance. That's balance.
Design For Men is a woody spicy scent in the early Nineties, post-powerhouse style. It's sort of like a slightly sweeter version of Escape For Men - sweet citrus notes up top, with woody and spicy notes in the middle. The base smells like it contains some amber and tonka bean, as it smells sweet and creamy, but not so rich and sweet to send me to the shower to scrub it off. I'd classify this as a light, transparent oriental. Its scent projects well and lasts all day, so you're getting excellent value for your money here, provided you like the way it smells.
Design For Men isn't a great or unique perfume by any means, but it's a good one, and at the prices it sells for, that's more than sufficient to get a solid thumbs up from me.
MY RATING: 7/10
Fragrance House: Paul Sebastian