The Prince and the Dressmaker
Written by Jen Wang
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age: Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride-or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia-the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances-one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?
Primary Source Pairing:
Frances is a talented and unique dressmaker. Prince Sebastian is in need of someone trustworthy and talented. After a fashion faux pas turns into a fashion success, Frances is recruited by Prince Sebastian as his personal seamstress. Frances takes on the roles of secret keeper and designer when she begins to work with Prince Sebastian. Together they dream and create dresses that revolutionize the fashion of the time. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study an ad showing a lace dress created by German fashion designer Christoph Drecoll in 1910. Drecoll was an extravagant designer who had many ideas and designs that influenced fashion in the early 1900s, including the beginnings of the design of the balloon sleeve. Encourage students to make connections to Frances’ creative design work in the book The Prince and the Dressmaker.
Questions for Discussion:
- Describe what you see.
- What do you notice first?
- How is this design similar to Frances’ work in the book? How is it different?
- What components of this design are present in the current fashion trends?
- Would Lady Crystallia wear this dress? Why or why not? Use visual, textual evidence.
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Christoph Drecoll: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph_Drecoll
“Drecoll Model of Black Lace. Paris Spring Season 1913” advertisement: Wikimedia Commons