The only nail varnish to wear au moment is Chanel's Rouge Noir. There is no denying that it is a glorious dark red colour and not tres extravagant at pounds 10, but the problem is that you just can't get it for love or money. Call Harvey Nicks, Harrods, call any Chanel boutique and they will say "non", because we have here a "phenomenon" of Cabbage Patch Doll proportions. The cheaper brands have been suprisingly slow to catch on. Bourjois used to do a brilliant colour that was very similar, but that was last year so it's no good to us now. The following have, however, some good alternatives. For best results apply two coats.

Clockwise from top left, (two blobs per product with final big blob also No 7):

MARKS AND SPENCER: Berry, pounds 2.25.

This is fab, plummier than the dried-blood colour of the Chanel one, but really nice and of excellent quality.

NO 7: Black Tulip, on sale from September, pounds 3.25. This is it, I thought, this is the real contender. But although it looks fantastique in the bottle, it isn't so good when you apply it. It streaks and looks like melted boiled sweets. Be patient and apply two coats v-e-r-y slowly and you could be getting somewhere.

MAX FACTOR: Persian Plum, pounds 2.95.

Yummy, like undiluted Ribena. Joint favourite with the Marks and Spencer one, and expensively thick and opaque in consistency.

RIMMEL: Burgundy, pounds 1.45; and CUTEX: 216 / Valpolicella, pounds 3.25. These are lighter in colour than the first three I tried (and the Cutex one is lighter than the Rimmel), but this would actually suit some people better. The Cutex Valpolicella is more rust than berry. But the Rimmel is a real bargain buy, even though it is a bit thin in consistency. AB