on January 1st 1970
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
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.
I’m not usually one for graphic novels as a whole. For the most part I’ll read a comic book or two, binge a whole superhero arc in a couple days, but your YA graphic novels aren’t really my bag. HOWEVER… I was immediately intrigued when this book showed up on my doorstep.
THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER is and adorable story, and a great addition to LGBT lit. It has beautiful (if a bit strange) art, high fashion, wonderful friendships, and a fantastic yet simple depiction of a gender fluid character.
One of the best parts of the story is the characters, and of course that starts with the dressmaker. Frances is imaginative and bold with her fashion, taking client opinion and design aesthetic over the societal norms of the day. She is daringly creative and a true friend and companion. Though originally a little put off by the art style, it was this character who made me star to love it. The way she is animated, her expressions and the look in her eyes, she carries the story and made me give it a better chance than I may have otherwise done.
The Prince, Sebastian, seems to be gender fluid (without ever openly identifying himself as such and seemingly using the pronouns HE/HIM as far as I could tell). Sebastian’s secret is that he is often going out at night as an alter ego, Lady Crystallia. On those days Sebastian feels more like a Princess than a Prince and he does not believe that his family would understand or respect his identity. He is unabashedly himself when he is with Frances and I was rooting for them the whole way.
The best review I can give for this graphic novel is this: I sat and read the entire thing in my bath, cover to cover. Despite getting pruney. Despite all my bubbles going away. Despite my water starting to get cold. I didn’t want to stop reading.
I loved this graphic novel, and it’s one of the few I will be keeping on my shelves. From a girl who mostly reads superhero and Jhonen Vasquez comics, the facts that such a sweet, endearing story appealed to me is a credit to both the art and the storytelling. Highly recommended.
And now, back to my Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comic…
Does this graphic novel appeal to you? Tell me in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,