The Prince and the Dressmaker
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
A book to hug again and again
In historical Paris, Prince Sebastian is supposed to be finding a bride. His parents are eager for him to get settled, having no clue that Sebastian’s passion is focused elsewhere. When he can get away from the castle, he puts on beautiful dresses and goes by the name Lady Crystallia. At his side is his best friend and dressmaker, Frances, who has dreams of designing the most unique fashion. But Frances must keep her role as Sebastian’s dressmaker a secret…one that might cost her her dreams.
Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker is completely adorable, heart-warming, and is guaranteed to wet your eyes. Sebastian and Frances are both wonderful characters, and I love how their friendship is at the heart of the story. They find something in each other that they haven’t found elsewhere, and they have some truly beautiful moments together. I also appreciate the inclusion of Sebastian’s family in the plot. Sebastian struggles with being honest with them, and they are frustrated at Sebastian’s procrastination in choosing a bride. However, they all love each other deeply, and there is a moment towards the end where Sebastian’s father shows his loyalty to his son that made me weep.
Likewise, Frances has a great character arc as well. She has clear goals and dreams, and those become complicated when she takes on the role as the prince’s dressmaker. Yet, she is never afraid to stand up for herself or to fight for her dreams. She is both loyal and kind, and fierce and ambitious.
I would do a great disservice if I didn’t mention the utter beauty in the drawings of this graphic novel. The clothing in particular is so detailed that I can only imagine the amount of time the author spent creating the high fashion scenes. There are a couple of areas where a scene or facial expression is hard to interpret, but the vast majority of the time, the illustrations pull you right into a story of beautiful color and style.
The Prince and the Dressmaker is the kind of book you’ll want to physically hug after reading. Sebastian and Frances are lovable, endearing, and complex. I would read a hundred stories about them just to spend more time with them in their world.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
What worked: I really loved this story of a dressmaker and the prince who likes to wear dresses. Prince Sebastian does this in secret until he 'discovers' the shocking outfit Frances made for a client. He hires her, but tries to keep his identity secret. What happens next is the start of a relationship where an unknown dressmaker designs Prince Sebastian dresses. Little by little he gains confidence in stepping out in the designs. But not everyone is so open to his 'secret'.
Lush illustrations set in Paris are the backdrop where two very unlikely characters come together and along the way discover friendship. Only two people know Prince Sebastian's secret. Frances loves the challenge of designing the prince dresses, but fears that keeping his secret might in fact hold her back from her own dream of being a top designer. What really works in this graphic novel is how Frances doesn't judge the prince for what others at this time might feel to be unorthodox behavior. To her, she wants to make the best dresses for him that show his true self. Saying this, the novel does show that not everyone approves. Prince Sebastian explores his own feelings and whether he should be true to himself or be the perfect prince his father and country expect of him. The working relationship between Frances and Prince Sebastian grows along the way.
Coming of age story set behind rich, colorful dresses in Paris with an adorable relationship that blossoms between a dressmaker and prince. The theme of finding out who you are and being happy is one that is sure to resonate with readers.
2. Mostly a great story of friendship and not being afraid to be true to yourself