A Late, Lovely Austin Civic Leader’s Dresses Given to UT

Before her life was cut short in 2009, Robin Shivers was one of Austin’s leading ladies, known as much for her cultural advocacy and philanthropy as for her exquisite sense of style.

Shivers was the wife of Allan “Bud” Shivers and daughter-in-law of former Texas Gov. Shivers. But she sliced through the formalities of the office, friends say, affectionately calling her father-in-law “Guvvy.”

A music lover and civic leader in the area of health care (she chaired the Seton Development Board), Robin Shivers found a community-improving way to combine her interests. She worked to found the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, which provides uninsured musicians with primary health care, basic dental services, mental health counseling, and more.

Meanwhile, she exhibited great style, wearing everything from a demure Dolce & Gabanna navy polka-dot dress to a midriff-baring gold halter top and cream-colored jeans with grace. She even had some of the dresses her late mother-in-law, Marialice Shivers, had worn as Texas’ First Lady re-cut to fit her.

Many of those gorgeous and historic pieces were on display Tuesday evening at the Headliners Club. As the sun set over downtown Austin, friends of Shivers and supporters of UT’s School of Human Ecology mingled and admired them.

Bud Shivers chose to donate much of his late wife’s clothing to the Historical Textiles and Apparel Collection at the School of Human Ecology. He united the collection with that of his mother.

Since 2010, Textiles and Apparel students have been working to conserve the garments. In the process, they’ve learned not only about textile conservation, but also about the stories of Texas women and a remarkable one in particular.

Professor Kay Jay, who has helped the students along, spoke movingly Tuesday about the experience. Jay said that one student, after learning about all that Robin had accomplished, told her, “It just makes you want to get going!”

“Bud,” she told Robin’s husband, “this gift will keep giving if it inspires people to get going.”

Top: the late Robin Shivers with her husband, Bud Shivers. Courtesy the School of Human Ecology. Below: John Galliano for Dior Dress worn by Robin Shivers and donated by Bud Shivers.


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