Nicole Farhi's show at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Nicole Farhi is known for combining masculine tailoring with fuss-free femininity and yesterday's show captured this as suit and sailor trousers were combined with ruffled blouses, while swingy, gathered skirts provided a confident flourish of girlishness.

The inspiration from the show came from Austria, and Tyrolean influences were apparent in full, wool dirndl skirts, brocade-edged boxy jackets, Alpine-style hats and velvet knickerbockers.

Speaking backstage after the show, Farhi said her inspiration came from looking at her coin collection. "The Austrian coins gave me the idea of building the collection around a Tyrolean theme," she explained. "I used traditional elements such as the Dirndl skirts and hats, and of course the coins, but they have all been modernised." The coins were interpreted as flat brass discs scattered or chained on sash belts, tunics and brooches.

It was another skilfully tailored, wearable collection, reflecting the fact that Farhi has been showing at London Fashion Week for more than 20 years and knows her customers well.

There were classic suit-style wool trousers, with wide and straight legs, as well as cropped knickerbockers in wool and velvet, and the waist was repeatedly accentuated in a subtle nod to the 1940s. Loose dresses were softly belted with velvet ribbon sashes, while shirt dresses and several jackets came with defined waists. The coats, in blanket and wrap shapes, were particularly timeless.

Prints, including a black and white teardrop print on a chiffon pussy-bow blouse, were subtle, and the colour palette was dark – predominantly black and grey, with earthier colours. Flashes of understated glamour came from muted gold, gilt brocade trims and flashes of ruby, as well as luxurious evening fabrics.

The setting might have been the Royal Opera House, but the eveningwear – particularly a Jacquard silk trench coat and a ruby strapless dress with gently draped bust – provided some after-hours drama without undue histrionics.

The evening attire was a highlight of Richard Nicholl's collection. The British-born, Australian-raised designer, who only graduated from Central Saint Martins College in 2002, showed black silk cocktail dresses with wide origami-like ribbons around the bust and flowing kaftan maxidresses.

Like Farhi, he plays with masculine tailoring, and there were many tuxedo-inspired oversized jackets, along with bowler and top hats. His look, however, is sharper and more 1980s-inspired, illustrated by a pair of crystal-studded, harem-style trousers.

The final outfit – a white waistcoat and mini-dress with a giant white bow and trailing ribbons at the back – seemed like a cheeky twist on the tradition of closing a show with a wedding dress. Anyone wearing this at the altar would make a very modern bride.