Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a brideor 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 Crystalliathe hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Francesone 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.
This title has Common Core connections.
★ 12/11/2017Publishers Weekly
A talented seamstress and a prince with a secret will win readers’ hearts in Wang’s utterly charming graphic novel, which is set in a playfully tweaked version of 19th-century Paris and highlights identity, acceptance, and fashion. After creating a scandalous dress for an attendee of Prince Sebastian’s 16th birthday party, Frances—an overlooked seamstress with big dreams—accepts a position as personal seamstress for a mystery client. She soon discovers that her employer is none other than Prince Sebastian, who wants her to create dazzling gowns for Lady Crystallia, Sebastian’s alter ego, who quickly becomes a fashion icon. Despite Frances’s connection with Sebastian, she worries that being part of the prince’s secret is limiting her dreams of finding success as a designer. The relationship between Frances and Sebastian—both as a conflicted prince and the glamorous Crystallia—glows; Frances understands that Sebastian and Crystallia are two halves of a brilliant whole. “It’s weird, I don’t feel like Prince Sebastian could lead a nation into battle, but Lady Crystallia could,” admits the prince, inspiring Frances to create an armor-themed dress for their next midnight escapade. Frances’s daring designs shine in Wang’s elegantly drafted and gorgeously colored illustrations, and the irreverently anachronistic approach to the setting provides a lovely and humorous counterbalance to the seriousness of the prince’s situation (“Prepare to get your lady groove on,” insists the burly, bearded king, who is eager for Sebastian to be betrothed). It’s all but certain to deliver grins, gasps, and some happy tears. Ages 12–up. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Feb.)
★ 12/01/2017School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Set in France, this work of historical fiction centers on Frances, a lowly dressmaker in a shop. A wayward teenager commissions Frances to fashion a dress that will make her "look like the devil's wench." She complies, and her creation catches the eye of a mysterious wealthy benefactor, for whom she is hired to work exclusively. Her patron is Prince Sebastian, who is mortified by his predilection for occasionally wearing dresses. Frances encourages Sebastian to be himself, and together the two create Lady Crystallia, the most fabulous fashion icon Paris has ever seen. In this well-crafted coming-of-age story, both Frances and Sebastian struggle to understand themselves and to embrace their identities. There's a hint of romance between Frances and Sebastian, but the emphasis is on their friendship. Wang doesn't dive deeply into Sebastian's sexual or gender identity, instead focusing on the message of self-acceptance. As Sebastian puts it, "This is who I am. I'm a prince who likes to wear dresses." The full-color artwork is gorgeous, featuring a variety of over-the-top dresses that fashionistas will envy. Facial expressions and the overall movement of the art enhance the enticing narrative; fans beginning to age out of Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson will find a new favorite in Wang. VERDICT With inviting illustrations and a relatable story line, this tender tale of friendship and identity is sure to delight even readers who aren't fans of the graphic novel format.—Ellen Conlin, Naperville Public Library, IL
Once upon a time, there was a prince who felt fabulous only in exquisite gowns. Prince Sebastian's parents, like fleets of fairy-tale progenitors before, are myopically focused on getting their kid hitched. Rendezvous with potential brides rattle Sebastian, and not just because he's only 16 and averse to icky matrimony. It's because he dresses in couture gowns and is petrified of facing what a reveal would mean to his parents and potential wife. Weary of donning his mother's duds, he hires Frances, a seamstress with an avant-garde flair. Their friendship quickly evolves as she harnesses her talent and he becomes empowered to make public appearances as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia. When Lady Crystallia becomes a fashion plate du jour—and secrecy verges on revelation—Sebastian and Frances are at a crossroads: can they remain true to themselves, each other, and the world? Wang's linework has as much movement and play as Crystallia's frocks, and her palette seamlessly wanders from petit-four brights to the moody darks of an ombre swatch. This is preindustrial Paris, so the cast is white, with the only otherness being class differentiation. Sebastian's story shouldn't be taken as a testament to how easy it is for one to reveal one's true self to one's parents, particularly if one is LGBTQIAP: Sebastian meets acceptance far too easily, particularly for such a public figure in such a conservative age. Sebastian's summation of Frances' aesthetic underscores the ultimate blueprint: fantasy and drama.A biblio bias-cut whose shimmer is welcome despite its optimistic shortsightedness. (Historical graphic fiction. 12-18)
"Gorgeously dense artwork, lively sense of movement, effervescent fashions, sweet romance, and heartwarming denouement." Booklist, starred review
"With inviting illustrations and a relatable story line, this tender tale of friendship and identity is sure to delight even readers who aren’t fans of the graphic novel format."School Library Journal, starred review
"It’s all but certain to deliver grins, gasps, and some happy tears." Publisher Weekly, starred review
"A visual feast, filled with exuberant charm and delightful characters." VOYAFrom the Publisher