R. L. Shep

Robert Lee "Robb" Shep (born 27 February 1933) is an American writer, publisher and textile researcher. He is commonly known by his nom de plume, R. L. Shep. Shep is known primarily for his books on textile arts — costume and period etiquette — which are either reprints of 19th century monographies or compilations of primary sources.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Robert Shep was born in Los Angeles, California to Ruth and Milton Shep; his four grandparents were Jews who emigrated to the United States from czarist Russia.[1][2]

In 1950, Shep graduated from Army and Navy Academy.[3] He received a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Berkeley in 1955. Shep continued his education, first at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London (1955–56), then at the American Institute of Foreign Trade in Glendale, Arizona.[1][4]


In 1965, Shep began to sell imported and out-of-print books on costume and textiles. In 1981, he took the helm of The Textile Booklist.[1]

Shep first traveled to Nepal in 1978. Later, between 1983 and 2004, Shep made several trips to Bhutan and Northeastern India; collecting and studying Bhutanese and Northeastern Indian Naga textiles, particularly from the Maram tribe, exploring design themes that remain consistent, persisting in the work even as traditions change over time.[5][6]

On his return to the United States, Shep devoted two issues of The Textile Booklist to Bhutan (Winter 1984 and Spring 1984) which included illustrated articles.

The Seattle Textile and Rug Society sponsored two presentations by Shep, the first (1999) focused on silks from Northeastern India;[6] Naga textiles were the subject of the second.[5][7]

Shep also collected textiles from these regions. The core of his collection includes some thirty Naga blankets or shawls dating from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, representing textile development during that period. Other items in the collection date from the early 20th century. This collection was given to the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

At the end of 2004, the balance of R. L. Shep's collection of antique and contemporary hand-loomed textiles was given to the Mingei Museum in San Diego, with some of the Shep collection going to the Henry Art Gallery, at the University of Washington.[7]

Professional affiliationsEdit

R.L. Shep is an honorary member of the Textile Society of America. He has served on the Costume Society of America's national board of directors from 1985 to 1987.[1]

Other professional affiliations have included the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the Seattle Textile and Rug Society, Pacific Textile Arts, the Costume Society of Ontario, The Costume Society of Great Britain, and the Australian Forum for Textile Art, Ltd..[1]


According to Shep, his interest in reprinting technical textile books from the 19th century started with the discovery of a copy of Louis Devere's "The Handbook of Practical Cutting on the Centre Point System" and was encouraged by his "mentor", the costumer Betty Williams.[8] He has published and often edited the following books:

  • Shep, R.L. (1980). Cleaning and Repairing Books: A Practical Home Manual. Lopez Island: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-00-4.[9][10]
  • Stanley Egerton Wilton, Mary Margaret (1986) [1846]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). The Book of Costume or Annals of Fashion. Lopez Island: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-04-2.[11]
  • Frost, Annie (1986) [1877]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). The Ladies' Guide to Needlework : Being a Complete Guide to All Types of Ladies' Fancy Work. Lopez Island: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-02-8.
  • Devere, Louis (1986) [1866]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). The Handbook of Practical Cutting on the Centre Point System. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-03-9.[12]
  • Giles, Edward B. The Art of Cutting and History of English Costume. Lopeza Island: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-05-9.[12][13]
  • Martine, Arthur; Godfrey Leland, Charles (1988) [1864, 1866]. Civil War Etiquette: Martine's Handbook & Vulgarisms in Conversation. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-07-1.
  • Shep, R.L., ed. (1988) [1853]. Ladies' self-instructor in Millinery & Mantua Making, Embroidery & Applique. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-08-X.[14]
  • Campbell, Mark (1989) [?]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Civil War Ladies: Fashions and Needle-Arts of the Early 1860s. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-09-8.
  • Hopkins, J.C. (1990) [1910]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Edwardian Ladies' Tailoring : The Twentieth Century System of Ladies' Garment Cutting. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-10-3.
  • Hartley, Florence (1991) [1859]. Ladies' Handbook of Fancy & Ornamental Work - Civil War Era. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-13-6.
  • Vincent, W.D.F. (1991) [1903]. Shep, R.L.; Williams, Betty (eds.). Tailoring of the Belle Epoque : Vincent's Systems of Cutting All Kinds of Tailor-made Garments. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-11-X.
  • Wyatt, J.; Le Blanc, H. (1991) [1822,1828]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Late Georgian Costume. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-12-7.[15]
  • Ben-Yusuf, Anna (1992) [1909]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Edwardian hats: The Art of Millinery. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-15-2.
  • Haskell, E.F. (1992) [1861]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Civil War Cooking: The Housekeeper's Encyclopedia. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-16-0.
  • Clement Brown, P. (1993) [1922]. Art in Dress. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-19-5.
  • Minister, Edward (1993) [1853]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). The Complete Guide to Practical Cutting. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-17-9.
  • Shep, R.L. (1993). Corsets: A Visual History. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-20-9.[16]
  • Lord, William Berry (1993) [1868]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Freaks of fashion: The Corset and the Crinoline. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 978-0-914046-18-9.
  • Salisbury, W.S. (1994) [1865]. Shep, R.L.; Dervis, Peter; Williams, Betty (eds.). Civil War Gentlemen: 1860s Apparel Arts & Uniforms. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-22-5.
  • Shep, R.L., ed. (1994) [1889]. Victorian Needle-craft: Artistic & Practical. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-21-7.[17]
  • Holding, Thomas Hiram (1997) [1897]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Late Victorian Women's Tailoring: The Direct System of Ladies' Cutting. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-23-3.[18]
  • Regency Etiquette : The Mirror of Graces. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. 1997 [1811]. ISBN 0-914046-24-1.
  • Queen, James; Lapsley, William (1998) [1796, 1809]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Federalist & Regency Costume, 1790-1819. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-25-X.[19][20]
  • Shep, R.L. (1998). The great war: Styles and patterns of the 1910s. Fort Bragg: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-26-8.
  • Shep, R.L.; Cariou, Greg (1999). Shirts & Men's Haberdashery : 1840s to 1920s ; a Rribute to Betty Williams. Mendocino: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-27-6.
  • Walker, George (2001) [1833]. Shep, R.L.; William, Charles; Uzanne, Octave; et al. (eds.). Early Victorian men: The Tailor's Masterpiece, All Kinds of Coats. Fort Bragg: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-28-4.[21]
  • Hecklinger, Charles (2002) [1880,1883]. Shep, R.L. (ed.). Women's costume 1877-1885: The Complete Dress and Cloak Cutter. Fort Bragg: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-29-2.[12]
  • Croonborg, Frederick T. (2005) [1907]. The blue book of men's tailoring. Fort Bragg: R.L. Shep. ISBN 0-914046-30-6.


In 1981 R.L. Shep purchased The Textile Booklist, a longstanding quarterly primarily devoted to lists of books on industrial textiles. He retained the industrial textile listings, but expanded coverage to include lists of new titles on costume and textile arts, adding reviews of some titles, and original articles on related subjects. At the end of 1984, Shep sold the Textile Booklist, which continued for several years under new ownership. From 1996 to 1997, Shep published and edited Rags: Quarterly Review of Costume, Clothing & Ethnic Textile Books, which offered in-depth reviews by textile professionals.[22][23][24]


R.L. Shep's endowments include a triennial symposium on textiles and dress at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), an annual ethnic textiles book award and an endowment at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.

In 1998, Shep founded the Triennial R. L. Shep Symposium of Textiles and Dress at LACMA. The symposia are supported by the R.L. Shep Symposium Endowment for Costume and Textiles. The first symposium, Dress as Transformation: Creating Experience in Theater and Masquerade, was held in April 1999. The second symposium, Miracles & Mischief: Noh and Kyogen Theater in Japan was held in December 2002.[25] It was the first of these symposiums to be held in association with an exhibit[26] and catalog.[27] The third symposium, 17th Century Textiles & Dress, was held on 9 April 2005 in association with the exhibit Images of Fashion from the Court of Louis XIV. The fourth symposium, Talking Cloth – New Studies on Indonesian Textiles, was held on 18 October 2008[28] in association with the exhibit Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles: Selections from the Mary Hunt Kahlenberg Collection [29] and catalog[30] It gave participants a "rare opportunity to scrutinize remarkable textiles from india and to reevaluate issues relating to the methodology of the field".[31]

The fifth symposium, Fashioning a Collection: Vision and Viewpoints, was held on 15 January 2011 in association with the exhibit Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915, with an exhibition catalog by LACMA Senior Curator and Head, Costume and Textiles Department, Sharon S. Takeda, and Kaye Durland Spilker, Curator, Costume and Textiles Department at LACMA.[32][33][34][35]

Since 2000, the annual R. L. Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award has honored a book in Ethnic Textile studies. The "esteemed"[36] award is a $750 prize funded by an endowment established by R.L. Shep in 2000. It is administered by the Textile Society of America.[37] The first winner was Otag-I Humayun: The Ottoman Imperial Tent Complex by Nurhan Atasoy.[38]

Since 2003, the R. L. Shep Endowment at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has been used to support the exhibitions and the publication of their catalogs. For example, in 2006, the Fowler used Shep Endowment funding for the exhibition Material Choices: Refashioning Bast and Leaf Fibers in Asia and the Pacific[39] and its catalog,[40] which also received the R.L. Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award in 2007.

In 2010 the R.L. Shep Endowment provided funding for a book and three major exhibits at the Fowler. The first was a successful show, Meet Me at the Center of the Earth by textile and performance artist Nick Cave. Also in 2010, Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia presented videos of weavers and batik artists from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and East Timor, talking about social and economic change, and its relation to their individual artistic choices; the videos were accompanied by textiles created by the artists especially for the exhibit.[41] The third project supported by the Shep Endowment in 2010 was the publication of a book, Nini Towok's Spinning Wheel: Cloth and the Cycle of Life in Kerek, Java by Rens Heringa, and the concurrent presentation of an exhibit of the same name.[42][43][44]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Robert Lee Shep." Who's Who in America, 59th edition. VIP Number: 00328926. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who's Who, 2005.
  2. ^ Markels, Bobby. "Talking with Robb Shep." Mendocino: Big River News, March 1979. pp.3-4.
  3. ^ "The Adjutant 1950". Carlsbad, California: Corps of Cadets, Army and Navy Academy. Phoenix, Arizona: Tyler Printing Company: Year Book Division, 1950. pp. 14-15, 17-18, 30, 73.
  4. ^ Thunderbird 1961. Phoenix, AZ: Tyler Printing Company, Year Book Division. p.48.
  5. ^ a b Naga Textiles with Robb Shep, Meeting Announcement Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine. Seattle Textile and Rug Society (STARS). Accessed 13 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Temples & Textiles of Northern India" Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine. Seattle Textile and Rug Society (STARS). Accessed 13 November 2011.
  7. ^ a b Notice, "House Tour Featuring the Ikat Collections of Robb Shep and Irene Joshi" Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine Seattle Textile and Rug Society (STARS). Accessed 13 November 2010.
  8. ^ Shep, R. L. "Foreword." The Victorian Tailor: An Introduction to Period Tailoring. By Jason Maclochlainn. London: Batsford, an imprint of Anova Books (2011). p.7.
  9. ^ Review: Kennedy, John (1992). Australian Library Review 9:339-340
  10. ^ Review: Beard, J. C. (1992). Library Association Record 94:199
  11. ^ Review: Gluckman, Dale (1987). Ornament 10:28
  12. ^ a b c Review: Seligman, Kevin L. (1988). Dress 14:89-90
  13. ^ Review: Seligman, Kevin L. (1989). Costume 23:127
  14. ^ Review: Brooks-Myers, Inez (1990). Dress: 16:93-95
  15. ^ Review: Cariou, Gail (1994). Costume 28:128-129
  16. ^ Review: Wong, S. (1994). New and forthcoming. TCI: Theatre Crafts International, 28(3), 60.
  17. ^ Review: Casey, Ellen Miller (1998). TD&T 34.2:62-63
  18. ^ Review: Cleveland, Debra Regan (1997). Dress 24:81-82
  19. ^ Review: Cleveland, Debra Regan (1997). Dress 24:82-83
  20. ^ Review: Edwards, Lesley (1999). Costume 33:146-147
  21. ^ Review: Barbour, David, and Natalie Zmuda (2001). Men's Wearhouse. (books & videos). Entertainment Design Sept. 2001: 45.
  22. ^ An Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities (January/March 1981-1984). Williamston, Mich. & P. Thomson, publishers.
  23. ^ Markels, Bobby. Interview: R.L. Shep. Caspar, California: Coast Arts (1997). pp. 1, 3.
  24. ^ Rags: Quarterly Review of Costume, Clothing & Ethnic Textile Books (1989-1997). R.L. Shep, editor & contributor. Mendocino, CA: R.L. Shep.
  25. ^ "Two-Day Symposium on Tradition and Fusion: The Arts of Noh and Kyogen Theater". UCLA. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  26. ^ Miracles & Mischief: Noh and Kyogen Theater in Japan Past Exhibitions: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Accessed 20 April 2011. Archived July 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Takeda, Sharon Sadako, Monica Bethe, et al. Miracles & Mischief: Noh and Kyogen Theater in Japan (2002). Los Angeles: Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.
  28. ^ "The Fourth R.L. Shep Triennial Symposium on Textiles and Dress" (PDF). UCR. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  29. ^ "Symposium: Talking Cloth—New Studies on Indonesian Textiles." LACMA Talks & Courses :Archived Talks (2008). Accessed 20 March 2011. Archived July 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Barnes, Ruth. Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles: Selections from the Mary Hunt Kahlenberg Collection. Ruth Barnes and Mary Hunt Kahlenberg, ed. Prestel: Verlagsgruppe Random House GmbH, 2008.
  31. ^ Reichle, Natasha (2008). Hali, 158:125
  32. ^ Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915. LACMA: Art Exhibitions (2011). Accessed 20 March 2011.
  33. ^ "LACMA fashions a new reputation." Culture Monster: L.A.Times Online (2 January 2009). Accessed April 20, 2011.
  34. ^ Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915. LACMA: Art Exhibitions (2011). Accessed 20 March 2011. Archived July 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Takeda, Sharon Sadako, Kaye Durland Spilker. Fashioning fashion: European dress in detail, 1700-1915. Preface by John Galliano. Essay by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. Contributions by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Clarissa M. Esguerra, and Nicole LaBouff. Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Munich & New York: DelMonico Books/Prestel (2010).
  36. ^ "Sherry and Naheed awarded for scholarly excellence". Daily Times. 6 December 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  37. ^ The Annual R. L. Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award. Textile Society of America (2011). Accessed 24 April 2011.
  38. ^ Atasoy, Nurhan. Otag-I Humayun: The Ottoman Imperial Tent Complex. Istanbul: MEPA (Medya Pazarlama Taskin ve Ticaret, A.S.) (1999).
  39. ^ "Material Choices: Bast and Leaf Fiber Textiles". Fowler. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  40. ^ Hamilton, Roy W. and B. Lynne Milgram. Material Choices: Refashioning Bast and Leaf Fibers in Asia and the Pacific. Los Angeles: The Fowler Museum at UCLA (2006).
  41. ^ Ravel Abarbanel, Stacey. "Two Fowler exhibits showcase women's textile traditions of Southeast Asia". UCLA. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  42. ^ Abarbanel, Stacey Ravel. Fowler Museum presents 'Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth,' Jan 10–May 30, 2010, UCLA Newsroom (23 October 2009). Accessed 20 January 2011.
  43. ^ Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia, Fowler Museum at UCLA (2010). Accessed 20 January 2011.
  44. ^ Heringa, Rens. Nini Towok's Spinning Wheel: Cloth and the Cycle of Life in Kerek, Java. Los Angeles: Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA with funding assistance from the R.L. Shep Endowment, 2010.

External linksEdit