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Comic Book / The Prince and the Dressmaker

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The Prince and the Dressmaker is a graphic novel by Jen Wang.

Frances is a seamstress in a nondescript Parisian dress shop. Her life changes, however, when Crown prince Sebastian sees her work at a ball held in his honor. Sebastian hires Frances to make dresses for him, which he wears while posing as socialite Lady Crystallia. Frances starts to tire of being his living secret, however, and Sebastian worries if anyone will accept him for who he is.


This comic contains examples of:

  • Adorkable: Sebastian has his moments, particularly when he's freaking out over going to a ladies spa and meeting Madame Aurelia.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Sebastian has an argument with his father about being accidentally rude to a visiting princess (and another prospective fiancee). Then his father suffers a heart attack and could die.
    • Before the climax, Sebastian is outed, and his parents say they cannot bear to look at him. Sebastian as a result runs away, without telling anyone except his personal servant where he is. As his mother puts it with regret, she thought he was dead and it would have been their fault for not accepting him.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: After Frances leaves him and quits, Sebastian as Lady Crystalia gets badly drunk. This leads to another prince seeing his wig come off and out him.
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  • Almost Kiss: Happens between Sebastian and Frances in chapter 6
  • Ambiguous Time Period: There's no mention of what year or era the story takes place. However, the fact that it takes place in Paris, France and the Eiffel Tower is nowhere in sight it's safe to assume that it takes before 1887 at least.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Sebastian turns many heads as Lady Crystallia
  • Belated Love Epiphany: A mutual one; Frances and Sebastian realize they love each other after spending a day together. They also know that they can't get together because she's not of nobility or a princess, and besides which she's his secret seamstress. Then Sebastian tries to order Frances from leaving when she quits, and she returns the key to his wardrobe without responding.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Frances kisses Sebastian just as he's about to go on the catwalk modeling her designs. He happily reciprocates.
  • Blush Sticker: Jen Wang's art style has most of the characters have some pinkish shading under their eyes. It becomes most noticeable on Sebastian and Frances during their Ship Tease moments, overlapping with Crush Blush.
  • Clark Kenting: No one seems to recognize Sebastian as Lady Crystallia even though all he wears are wigs, cosmetics, and whatever Pimped-Out Dress Frances whips up.
  • Costume Porn: There is no denying there are many beautiful clothes pictured. Many of which are designed by Frances in-universe.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Frances finally gets the credit and recognition for her designs, the King and Queen give their blessing for Sebastian and her to pursue a relationship despite the class differences, as well as for Sebastian to keep wearing dresses without being in the closet, and they have changed Parisian society for the better.
  • Everyone Can See It: Heavily implied. King Leo tells Frances that while he was scared of what would happen to Sebastian openly dressing in women's clothing, he decided that everything would be okay "because someone still loved him" giving Frances a furtive look.
  • Friendless Background: There's no mention of Sebastian or Frances having any close friends before meeting each other but the two of them get to be very close. It's also poignant because Sebastian calls Frances his best friend.
  • Goth: Lady Sophia Rohan has shades of this when she makes her appearance at the Prince's Birthday ball. She commissions Frances to make her a dress that would make her look like "the devil's wench." She created a provocative black dress that Sophia is more than happy to wear. She appears at the ball wearing the dress with thick eye shadow and rudely stuffs her face with cake, making her total apathy for the gathering public for all to see. It is this radical design that catches Sebastian's eye, leading to him hiring Frances.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Frances wears a purple dress at Trippleys fashion show.
  • The Hero's Birthday: The book opens with invitations being sent out and ladies commissioning dresses made for the ball celebrating Sebastian's sixteenth birthday.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Sebastian and Frances have a mutual one after Frances decides to leave after she can't deal with being a secret, and Sebastian gets outed while drunk just after he's decided to settle down for a boring Arranged Marriage. He goes off to a monastery to do penance, without telling anyone where he is. Frances finally snaps out of hers when Sebastian comes to see her fashion show and encourages her to use the older designs.
  • Hollywood Costuming: There are many beautiful clothes shown, but as the story takes place in 1880’s France, there are several designs that are not accurate to the decade. For example, one chapter shows Princess Juliana in a strapless Grace Kelly-esque blue gown, but strapless dresses wouldn’t be invented until the 1930’s and they wouldn’t be popularized until the 1940’s.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Frances's former boss points out that she doesn't design for the client wearing the dress, but rather the client who pays the dress shop and the seamstress by default.
  • Just the Way You Are: Eventually, the King and Queen say this about Sebastian after they find him at Frances's fashion show in the climax. It's also why he falls for Frances, who has never judged him.
  • Literal-Minded: Frances has one as an Establishing Character Moment: she asks Lady Sophia how she wants her dress. Sophia says to make it as ghastly as possible. Frances spends hours working on such a number, which is "ghastly" by elegant Parisian standards but is still a dress, and makes Lady Sophia happy.
  • Nice to the Waiter: There's one scene where Queen Marie is politely asking Frances to fix a tear in one of her gowns and she goes on to exclaim that she's heard nothing but nice things about Frances from Sebastian. Sebastian is also this to his valet, Emile, who he trusts with his secret (though it's unknown if Sebastian felt comfortable enough to tell him the truth or whether Emile found out by accident as Frances did.)
  • No Name Given: Lady Sophia Rohan, Peter Trippley, and his father George are the only characters that have first and last names. Other characters like Sebastian, Frances, Emile, Juliana, and Madame Aurelia aren't given last names. The queens first name is Marie, if her signature on an invitation is anything to go by but none of the other characters use it.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Sebastian states that he is the only child to the king and queen of Belgium, and Frances and Peter Trippley don't mention having any siblings.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Frances is upset that people are copying Lady Crystallia's styles without knowing who the designer is.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Queen Marie, Princess Juliana, and Madame Aurelia all wear their hair this way. Frances later wears her hair this way towards the end of the book.
  • Prince Charmless: Princess Juliana's brother, Marcel, is tactless at best.
  • Princess Classic: Princess Juliana of Monaco is shown to be polite, elegant, and poised in every scene featuring her.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Frances's goes all the way down her back when unbound. The wig that Sebastian wears as Lady Chrystallia can count as this too.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Double-subverted with Frances's first boss. While he is angry with her for the design of Lady Sophia's dress, he does point out that her job isn't to please the client wearing the dress, but the client who pays for it. And when he hears another client wants to poach her, he offers to raise her salary and then gives her a job back.
    • Peter Trippley when Frances starts working for him. While he's surprised that she debuts her original designs rather than the refined ones he wants, he allows it on seeing their success.
    • In the end, the king and queen prove to be this. While it takes Sebastian running away for them to change their minds, the king uses his power and authority to allow Lady Crystallia to star at Frances's fashion show and even wears one of Frances's designs.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Inverted. Sebastian meets Frances with a cloth over his head to hide his identity, and she assumes naturally that her new client is a woman. Then he tries to catch her when she trips, since she was trying on heels at his insistence, and his cloth falls. Then she realizes he is the prince.
  • Secret Keeper: Sebastian's valet, Emile, is aware of what he and Frances are up to.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Explored. Lady Sophia is miserable while in her regular clothes, but in the lurid black dress that Frances designs, she looks utterly radiant because of how happy she is. Played straight with Frances, who gets to wear a nice dress for her night out with Sebastian in chapter 6.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Peter and Princess Juliana go on how everybody's taking cues from Lady Crystallia's fashion choices, but there's only one scene showing an unnamed woman wearing a dress similar to Frances' designs.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Lady Sophia, the teenage girl who messes up her ballgown and gets a new one at the last minute, alerts Prince Sebastian to Frances's talent.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: It's not lampshaded, but Sebastian, dressed as Lady Crystallia, somewhat resembles his mother the queen.
  • Tomboy: It's implied that Lady Sophia is one. Her chaperone mentions that Sophia messed up her ballgown by riding in it, and Sophia retorts that the chaperone should have packed her riding gown.
  • Transgender: Sebastian claims that while on some days he knows he is a prince, other days he "feels like a princess," indicating that he is genderfluid. Sexuality-wise, he is attracted to women.
  • True Blue Femininity: Princess Juliana, Sebastian's prospective fiancée, is always seen dressed in blue. Frances also wears a blue dress when she and Sebastian have their big night out.
  • Uptown Guy: Sebastian is this for Frances.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There's no mention as to what happened to Juliana after Sebastian's outed as Lady Crystallia, but presumably their engagement is broken off and she and her family return to Monaco.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Frances gets angry when Sebastian won't let her present her work to an important designer named Madame Aurelia, and has to pretend she's a nameless servant to keep his secret. Eventually, she decides to quit and work at her old job.
    • Frances tells the king and queen that Sebastian was "ruined" because he was scared of disappointing them, implicitly pointing out that their response to his forcible outing probably compelled him to run away. The king admits that despite what happened, he thinks Seb is perfect.
  • When She Smiles: Lady Sophia may not have a typical dress, but she steals the show at the ball with her happiness.
  • Women Are Wiser: Zig-Zagged. Frances is certainly the most level-headed character.

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