Boris Johnson with Harold Tillman, chairman of the British Fashion Council, and models Laura Bailey, Erin O'Connor and Poppy Delevigne as London Fashion Week opens / John Phillips

Boris Johnson is no stranger to high-end mingling, but if he is to preside over the Olympic fashion showcase next year, he'll need to work on his style-set jargon.

"What are you wearing, Boris?" one journalist demanded of him as he opened London Fashion Week at a ceremony yesterday.

"A suit?" he replied, clearly baffled.

Surrounded by some of the British Fashion Council's "ambassadors", among whom were former models Erin O'Connor and Laura Bailey, he said it was the most glamorous audience he had ever addressed, and joked about rescuing funding for the event from those in the Treasury who wished to use it to bail out Greece.

"The fashion industry employs 80,000 people in London," the Mayor of London said, "and gives £1bn to the economy every year. My message is serious and simple: if London fashion businesses can help and we can find the public funds ... we can solve youth unemployment and lengthen our lead over the rest of the world."

Harold Tillman, the chairman of the British Fashion Council, referenced the opening last week of the £1.5bn Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, the biggest urban mall in Europe, as proof of the faith investors continue to have in London and its fashion credentials.

But the main draw was, of course, the catwalk shows, of which there will be almost 70 over the next five days.

First on the schedule was fashion week veteran Paul Costelloe, whose upbeat collection for spring/summer 2012 took inspiration from the Sixties. Short shift dresses came in embossed, metallic pastel jacquard, while cocoon coats, trapezium-line jackets and skirt suits in calico and poplin were finished with more modern sportswear detailing.

Maria Grachvogel also presented her range yesterday, in the splendour of the Savoy ballroom, where models wore fluid and sinuous, digitally printed dresses, jumpsuits and trousers that conjured images of the Talitha Getty jet set and disco-rock glamour of the late Seventies.

Corrie Nielsen, lauded last season for her imaginatively reworked Elizabethan farthingales, was this season influenced by the Far East, with models wearing kimono-esque draped tailoring and Kabuki suits in navy and chartreuse silks, decorated with intricate origami pleats, folds and elaborate ruching.

London Fashion Week continues tomorrow with heritage label Daks, Julien Macdonald, Jaeger and Vivienne Westwood all on the line-up.

Fashion Week Diary

Naked ambition

Although the front row is not easily shocked, eyebrows were raised at some entirely gratuitous nudity during the Jena Theo show yesterday, where one model appeared topless but for an edgy, modern mac made from washed canvas. Get ready for flasher chic next spring.

Spotting the trends

At this early stage, trends are a little thin on the ground, although there were a few notable themes: drapery and square cuts, bright chartreuse and raspberry hues, as well as digital and abstract marbled prints all cropped up.

Nicola nips in

It was a quiet day for celebrities, but thankfully Girl Aloud Nicola Roberts was able to attend the Bora Aksu show and shimmied along merrily to the music from her front-row perch. She was whisked away by her people straight after the designer took his bow, presumably because an envelope was being opened somewhere and she couldn't miss it.