The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Genre: graphic novel, lgbt+
Secondary genre: historical
Format: graphic novel
Content warnings: homophobia, trans/queer phobia, toxic masculinity
Rep: gender fluid
Rating: planchet-4

If you have been paying any attention at all to the book world in the past few months, you have probably seen a bunch of reviews for this book on blogs or youtube, and I’m going to say–the hype is pretty well deserved.

Prince Sebastian is expected to be a manly, macho king when his father leaves the throne, but at least half the time he’d rather dance in frilly dresses with flowers in his hair. 

For years, this has been a secret. He dons his mother’s old dresses and spends his time in his private rooms. But when the designs of a little-known seamstress catch his eye at a ball, his ambitions start to grow. 

Frances wants to be one of the top designers in France, but she can’t do that working in a sweat-shop like production studio–especially when her most daring design, the first one to have her personal stamp on it–gets her fired. But when a mysterious man arrives at her door and takes her to the palace to meet a mystery client, it looks like things might just be turning around. 

Sebastian and Frances form a fast friendship and a tight bond, each lifting the other up to their goals. But when their friendship hits a rocky patch, they might both lose their chance at their dreams. 

This was such a cute little graphic novel. I read it in about 90 minutes. While the art style wasn’t my usual taste (I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if not for the buzz this book got on Youtube), it was still very cute and I loved the sketches at the back of the book, and I especially loved the ending. I would say why, but that would be a major spoiler!

My only complaints were that I would have liked to see the princess Sebastian’s parents were trying to set him up with apologize for being a jerk to him, and while it is set in “Paris” the story bears very little resemblance to the actual geography or history of the city. 

But, if you love fashion, gender-queer characters, and books with strong friendships, then this is a good one to pick up. I think it would also be good if you have a kid starting to wonder about gender boundaries.