Wearing a stunning, Naeem Khan, green floral dress Obama inaugurated the Anna Wintour Costume Center at a celebrity-studded ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"For our young people this center will be a source of learning and inspiration," Obama told the crowd, just hours ahead of a glittering gala ball.
Hollywood actress Sarah Jessica Parker joined designers Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney and Oscar de la Renta at the event.
The museum's Costume Institute has undergone a two-year renovation and been named after Wintour, the British-born editor-in-chief of American Vogue and artistic director for publisher Conde Nast.
"The new Anna Wintour Costume Center is designed to accommodate and inspire the next generation," said director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell.
Its inaugural exhibition features another British export to the United States, groundbreaking couturier Charles James, whose work goes on view from Thursday until August 10.
In addition to two exhibition galleries, the center includes conservation facilities, collection storage and a library.
Wintour hosts the Costume Institute Gala Benefit, an annual charity gathering that has become one of the most glittering occasions in the social calendar of international jet-setters, later on Monday.
She has been a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum since 1999 and in her role as benefit chair and fundraiser she has raised around $125 million for its Costume Institute.
The Charles James exhibition features 65 of the designer's most notable designs from the 1920s until his death in 1978.
"Charles James considered himself an artist, and approached fashion with a sculptor?s eye and a scientist's logic," said the director of the museum, Campbell.
"As such, the Met is the ideal place to explore the rich complexity of his innovative work."
The Institute has more than 35,000 costumes and accessories in its collection and its library is home to more than 30,000 rare books and periodicals, files, prints, drawings and photographs.