Book Review | The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
YA Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction
Paperback 288 pages

My synopsis: Set in a somewhat modern-thought version of Paris, this story follows Prince Sebastian, heir of Belgium, and Frances, an aspiring fashion designer. Sebastian  has a secret–he moonlights as the fabulous Lady Crystallia, wearing beautiful and eccentric dresses designed by his new friend and confidante, Frances. But Sebastian is expected to find a bride and become King, while Frances must deal with the fact that being a part of the Prince’s secret means limiting her exposure as an up and coming designer.

I had heard about this graphic novel from my Children’s Literature professor, but never added it to my TBR. I managed to pick it up while spending the night at my friend’s house last weekend who said it was very cute and easy to breeze through.

I am a huge supporter of graphic novels despite not actually reading many, with the exception of some really excellent ones which were recommended to me by my professors.

I will give you my verdict right now: this book is as fabulous as Lady Crystallia.

I love the full-color illustrations and much prefer them over monochromatic ones. I think this important aspect of the graphic novel itself reflects the vibrancy and uniqueness of the story and its themes–self-love, tolerance, and being yourself.

I admire that this story follows both the dreams and aspirations of Sebastian and Frances. Sebastian fears what others may think of his cross-dressing, while Frances seeks to make something of herself and her fashion career. This is not just a story about a boy who loves to wear dresses, but a young woman who learns that keeping someone else’s secret also means sacrificing her own goals.

This might be a bit of a spoiler, but I also really appreciate the fact that while Sebastian enjoys dressing as a woman, he isn’t gay. Many people assume that if you’re a cross-dresser, your gender and/or sexual identities must be questionable. The same thing goes for your gender/sexual identity–you have to look or dress a certain way. It’s possible to love something just because you do and not because you’re trying to fit the standards for some other identity or persona–standards which are assumed by other people, mind you.

I highly recommend Jessica Love’s absolutely stunning picture-book Julian is A Mermaid for a story that follows this same line of thought. The illustrations in this one are breath-taking.

It is also because of this particular line of thought that makes me just a little hesitant to categorize this book as “LGBTQ+”/gender identity because Sebastian does not identify as something other than heterosexual or male. But the cross-dressing aspect still makes this a valuable addition to the genre regardless due to its touching on the important topic of gender or sexuality assumptions and stereotypes.


The Prince and the Dressmaker is heart-warming and completely necessary. This story made me laugh so much. Despite this book’s two-dimensional tangibility, Wang creates characters who are extremely animated and real.  Sebastian is a bit of a drama-queen (no pun intended) while Frances is an easy-to-root-for and determined young heroine.

This one seems to be generally listed as Young Adult, but this could be a great story for all ages. I actually thought it was a juvenile/middle grade graphic novel.


Twitter: @jasminesreading
*2018 Reading Challenge Update: 109/200

6 thoughts on “Book Review | The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

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