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The Prince and the Dressmaker

Review

The Prince and the Dressmaker

I've known that I wanted to read THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER since First Second, the publisher, announced its release. There was something extremely enticing about the cover --- the soft pinks, the way the characters were gazing at each other in the foreground, the dark ink of the title --- that made me have instant book-envy whenever I saw a friend receive an early galley.

I didn't let myself look at reviews or even the description of the book. The only thing I knew about it was that it seemed everyone but me had read it and that I was in for a treat with First Second's work. So when I finally got a copy, I settled in and devoured it within an hour or two. And all of my anticipation and expectations were worth it.

"Jen Wang's panels are bursting with detail and color; the design of the dresses are stunning. The story was original and nuanced."

THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER follows a young seamstress in Paris who makes the mistake of designing a dress for a young lady that is as eye-catching and controversial as possible for a royal ball. Society is stirring with this news, intent on ruining Frances' reputation and that of her employer. Before she can be fired, she's offered employment --- rather mysterious employment --- elsewhere.

When Frances meets her secret employer, she's tasked with making dramatic, romantic and unforgettable pieces. And soon it's revealed that she's designing for royalty --- but not just any royalty. The Crown Prince Sebastian of Brussels.

What follows is a gorgeous, touching and fun narrative about a prince who sometimes prefers to be Lady Crystallia, a seamstress trying to make a name for herself and the friendship the two form over fashion and the dream of being who they want to be.

Jen Wang's panels are bursting with detail and color; the design of the dresses are stunning. The story was original and nuanced. I love the transformation we saw of both Sebastian/Lady Crystallia and also of Frances, who allows her ideas to flourish but also stands by her convictions. Both characters are worthy of admiration and I hope many young readers find something motivational in the story because it definitely is deserving of it.

This a perfect read for anyone who loves graphic novels or really any novels --- the story is beautifully told and gives voice to a topic that isn't often discussed in writing, gender fluidity, without expressly naming it. I think the theme of flourishing and of being who you want to be above all else, is something young readers and older readers can relate to and even maybe find comfort in. Regardless of the message, though, the book is drawn really well --- so well that I can almost picture an animated movie as I flip quickly through the pages. I cannot wait for more of Jen Wang's work and I will be recommending this highly to everyone I get the chance to mention it to!

Reviewed by Brianna Robinson on February 14, 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang