The Prince and the Dressmaker, a perfect fairy tale that defies all ‘conventional happily ever after’ stereotypes, a gorgeous graphic novel written and illustrated by Jen Wang, is the beautiful story of Prince Sebastian and his dressmaker Frances.
Starting at a ball invite, Frances is a simple seamstress who has been ordered to create a last minute gown , for a petulant princess who has messed up her gown while riding . She whispers “Just make it ghastly. Make me look like the devil’s wench.” and Frances in a moment of crazy inspiration creates a risque outfit. Set in a 19th century Parisian society, of course the dress creates a scandal. Strangely enough, she is called upon to be a personal dressmaker for a rich patron. Soon, she finds herself bestowed with a unique opportunity and a big secret. Prince Sebastian sometimes likes to wear dresses! A unique friendship blooms as they kind of become each other’s fairy Godmothers .
With creative freedom , lavish resources and a perfect muse, Frances spins out the most amazing dresses to match Sebastian’s deep love for fashion. In a leap of courage , the potential crown prince transforms into the stunning Lady Crystallia , even as his parents hunt for a suitable bride. Together, they are fast becoming Paris’s most sought after duo. Opportunities begin to present themselves as a huge department store plans its opening and Frances’ dream to meet her idol, an acclaimed designer of ballet costumes, seems to be a matter of time. But France’s fame now comes at the cost of exposing the Prince. As the King falls sick and stakes change, Price Sebastian knows he has to rise to the expectations of his crown-prince duty.
Will he choose to hide his secret at the cost of Frances’s career possibilities? Will Frances pursue her dream and have to betray the trust and friendship of the Prince? Will the Prince ever be accepted wholly with all his dreams and desires?
Prince and the dressmaker is a truly special love story told in an aesthetic, historical setting, a tale with breathtaking dresses in fabulous places, exploring the challenges and conflicts, deep friendship and love , dreams and identity, and most importantly about loving yourself.
A modern fairy tale that is subversive , inclusive and accepting is indeed what I would call a happy ending!
Trigger warnings: Forced outing, Transphobia
Fear of Judgement and Being true to Oneself
Frances tells the King, “The thing that ruined Sebastian was how afraid he was of what you’d think of him.” Think about what limitations are caused by the fear of what others will think? Why does it matter so much to us? How can we overcome the fear?
As school moves online, I see many boys who have chosen to grow their hair long and sport hairbands and ponytails! Are we conforming to a norm that is not true?
Clothes maketh man and appearances
People may judge you based on what you wear. Think of situations where what you wear is important because of how others will treat you.
How can fashion be expressions of our very unique identities?
How can it affect the opportunities of someone who cannot afford the clothing?
Sebastian asks for a dress that is “fruit-jam” inspired. Have fun exploring/creating clothes based on your favourite food.
TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/kaustav_dey_how_fashion_helps_us_express_who_we_are_and_what_we_stand_for
Sacrifice and Choices ,
We applaud acts of sacrifice and giving in friendships. If one has to choose between giving up a dream inorder to maintain a dear friendship, how can one choose? Think of motherhood and the halo applied to a woman who has given up her career or taken a part time version, because it is expected of her. When can one give up a dream and not regret it?
Malcolm Gladwell states in his book Outliers“ three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. Ponder…
Leaving you with “I hope you find true meaning, contentment, and passion in your life. I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve. I hope you find whatever balance you seek with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you – yes, you – have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it.” Sheryl Sandberg, Lean in