Sebastian is a prince who, when looking in a mirror, sometimes sees a princess instead of a prince. Sebastian longs to express this other side of himself but is afraid of the resulting reactions, particularly what his parents will think. Frances is a low level seamstress in a shop. She has daring fashion designs in her heart but the shop Frances works for does not share her artistic vision.
Seeing one of Frances unique designs at a ball sparks an idea in Sebastian, to hire this amazing designer to create dresses for him to wear. It seems the perfect fit. Frances is hired as Sebastians seamstress, to the public she makes his shirts and princely attire, in secret she designs striking gowns for Lady Crystallia, Sebastian’s more feminine flamboyant side. What starts as a working relationship quickly blossoms into a friendship.
Lady Crystallia begins to take the Parisian nightlife by storm, and Sebastian and Lady Crystallia’s lives begin to uncomfortably overlap. Frances is thrilled by the creative designs and freedom of expression she has dressing Lady Crystallia but begins to chafe at having to stay a secret, especially as other designers begin copying her ideas. When this secret prevents Frances from fulfilling a life long dream she decides it is time to leave.
Frances leaves Sebastian’s employ and sets out to join a department store that will feature her own line of dresses in their fashion show. With the loss of Frances’s help, Sebastian decides to buckle down and make his parents happy by finally becoming betrothed to a princess. Frances has to tame down her wild stylistic impulses to be more market friendly. Neither are truly happy.
When Sebastian’s secret is revealed, Frances stands up for her friend, even so far as telling the king that Sebastian is perfect just the way he is. This encounter helps the king to realize his son’s life has not been ruined and everything would be fine because there were people who loved Sebastian exactly how he is. Learning of Frances’s fashion show at the department store Sebastian comes to support his friend. The dresses being shown are not of the style Frances would have liked to show the world in her first fashion show. Sebastian reveals he still has Frances’s gowns and with the help of his fully supportive father they switch the dresses last minute. When the king walks down the runway in a striking red gown my heart grew three sizes.
This book has gotten glowing reviews from every source I saw write about it and I can see why. Jen Wang, the author and illustrator, created a warm story of friendship that reminds us to dare to be different and true to yourself.
Comments from Ysakitty: The entire feeling of The Prince and the Dressmaker to me was incredibly deep. It had elements of real life. I honestly had no opinion about a boy dressing up as a girl or a girl dressing up as a boy. I personally love the full emotion and how much it represents everyone in real life. Some people do want to express another side of themselves and this shows that it’s okay to be yourself. The art was very beautiful and bright. I found the notes in the back of the book really interesting. I like how the artist showed different stages and design choices. My recommendation is this is a 4 star book, it is amazing.