www.nytimes.com -- Julia Flesher Koch, a young woman of manners and social ambition from Conway, Ark., much admired in her Upper East Side circle for marrying one of the richest men in America, made her New York society debut last month when she ascended the stairs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in an explosion of flashbulbs and expectations. It was what the Met calls ''the party of the year,'' the annual benefit for its Costume Institute, and Julia Koch, 34, a former Adolfo assistant who literally dressed Nancy Reagan in the old court designer's knitted suits, was co-chairwoman -- a position held in the past by both Pat Buckley and Jacqueline Onassis. Koch (pronounced coke) shared her post with two crucial members of the fashion trade: Patrick McCarthy, the chairman of Fairchild Publications, and Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor, who handpicked her for the job. Koch's husband of 18 months, David H. Koch, executive vice president of the $30 billion Koch Industries Inc., the second-largest privately held company in the United States, was helpful, too: he has given the Met, by his estimation, $3 million. In 1995, he paid $9.5 million for the Fifth Avenue apartment that belonged to Jackie Onassis. The couple plans to move in this spring.
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