“The Prince and the Dressmaker” Is a Gender-Queer Masterpiece


Photo Courtesy of First Second Books

Rachel Jacoves ’25, Copy Editor

“The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang is a wonderful graphic novel that explores themes of gender and familial expectations. Set in Paris during the dawn of the modern age, the book follows a young prince named Sebastian and his personal seamstress named Francis as they take the Paris fashion world by storm. 

During the day, Sebastian is the Crown Prince of Belgium who is searching for a wife, but, at night, he is Lady Crystallia. Francis spends her time making extravagant dresses for the Prince, but overtime, begins to feel stunted by the need to keep the Prince’s alter ego a secret.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found that there wasn’t much that I would change or want to be different as I read it. The art style was fun and really felt like it fit the story well. I loved how on the pages that separated each chapter, the art was different sections of a dress design. 

The content of the novel had the perfect mixture of happy and heartbreaking scenes. The first time that we see Sebastian in a dress made by Francis, he is glowing and you can tell that he is in his element. He stated that, “it’s weird, I don’t feel like Prince Sebastian could lead a nation into battle, but Lady Crystallia could.” Sebastian sees himself and Lady Crystallia as two separate people, but at the end, he learns that he is both Sebastian and Lady Crystallia.

I think my favorite part of the novel was, quite honestly, the ending. After Francis leaves Sebastian after a fight, Sebastian falls into a dark place of drinking and self-loathing. He decides to go to a music hall dressed as Lady Crystallia and accidentally exposes who he is to his fiancé’s brother, Prince Marcel.

After Sebastian is outed, he runs away to a monastery, but finds out that Francis’ designs will be in a fashion show. When Sebastian returns, his family finds him and they all decide that the guards and his father, the King, will wear Francis’s dresses down the runway.

This was a beautiful moment of acceptance and love, and I was so glad that this novel did not end with Sebastian being forced to keep his alter ego secret or with him being estranged from his family.

The only thing that I wish was added to the novel was more to the very end. My favorite parts of novels are when we are able to see everyone happy and while we get a chapter of that, it is very short. I want just a little bit more. Overall though, I thought this book was excellent and on a scale of one to five stars, I give it 4.5. 

“The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang is a wonderful story about gender and finding your place in the world. If that is something that you are looking for, I would highly recommend this novel.