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A dress fit for a ball

Gail Huff in the gown that designer Nara Paz (left) created for her. Gail Huff in the gown that designer Nara Paz (left) created for her.
By Christopher Muther
Globe Staff / December 16, 2010

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It sounds like a challenge straight out of “Project Runway’’: Create a couture gown for a senator’s wife that will be worn at the White House Christmas ball. The catch? You only have four days to make it.

That is what recent Lasell College graduate and Stoneham-based designer Nara Paz faced earlier this month when she was contacted by Gail Huff, wife of Senator Scott Brown, about a dress for the gala, which is hosted by the president and first lady.

“We spoke a week before the event,’’ the Brazilian-born Paz says. “She came over, started looking at my clothing, and she liked it. The dress that she chose was adapted from my senior collection at school.’’

After a quick fitting, Paz proceeded to rework the design, which was inspired by the Renaissance. Its theatrical flourishes were toned down a bit, and Paz quickly created the pattern, cut the fabric, and started sewing the garment — much of it by hand.

“There’s an elaborate corset inside,’’ says Paz. “There’s a lot of construction going on there.’’

Huff got to show off the dress when she chatted with Michelle Obama at the ball, a meeting the 38-year-old Paz hopes will help open doors in the future.

“For me, it’s not really worth making the dress if the person wearing it doesn’t feel special in it,’’ she says. “But she really loved the dress. She could appreciate the fact that it was made special for her.’’