Naked nails are no longer an option.

Last week I spotted a very fashionable lady's talons. They were painted impeccably in the most subtle ruby shade you could imagine. Naturally they complemented her white dress and burgundy accessories perfectly.

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Only two days later, while perusing a trusted blog, I noticed an entry on the latest nail art. It included a picture with three sets of hands, each with nails painted in the latest colours. But that wasn't all, on one nail on each hand there was a little golden designer logo – one LV for Louis Vuitton and two with the interlocking Cs of Chanel. One question sprang to mind: what next? The answer came about three days later. Motif nail polish, designed and painted by hand. It included little coloured swirls and miniature flowers depicted in detail. On paper or glazed pottery it would have been considered art – on nails it's a new fashion trend.

So why this sudden fascination with nails? Last year it was reported that nail polish had replaced lipstick as the most recession-proof cosmetic in the US, as sales of polishes had increased by 54% in a year. At the time Estee Lauder's chairman Leonard Lauder said: "Nail polish has become the heir to lipstick."

There could be something in that. Cosmetics often do well out of economic gloom, as women who can no longer afford to spend on designer clothes and bags look for a more affordable way of bringing a little luxury into their lives. In the past that luxury was lipstick, now it's nail polish.

Here's a selection of my favourites: Estee Lauder Teal Topaz nail lacquer (£14); Topshop Make-up Nails in Starlight (£6); Illamasqua nail varnish in Stance (£13.50).