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She Feels Pretty

September 21, 2020   |   Written by Jennifer E. Smith

The first time the actress Talia Ryder visited New York City, she and her uncle went to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. She was 9. “I remember getting pooped on by a pigeon and feeling like the luckiest person alive,” she said. Three years later, the aspiring performer and dancer from Buffalo made it to Broadway with a role in “Matilda the Musical.” (Her younger sister, MiMi, played the title character.)

Soon, Ms. Ryder, 18, can be seen in the Steven Spielberg remake of “West Side Story,” out Dec. 18. The film, for which she will play one of the Jets, the gang of white teenagers at war with a rival Puerto Rican crew on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is her sophomore project on the big screen. (Her debut in this year’s coming-of-age drama “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which was directed by Eliza Hittman and won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, was critically acclaimed.) To act for Mr. Spielberg, and dance for Justin Peck, the resident choreographer for the New York City Ballet who was recruited to join the film, was, quite simply, “an honor,’ she said. “I feel like, as a dancer, you grow up dancing to ‘America’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’”

On a bright Saturday this month, Ms. Ryder took to the streets of New York to model Chanel’s fall 2020 haute couture collection, which the high school graduate likened to belonging in a “dark fairy tale.” Among the standout looks are a gray-and-white tweed dress covered in hand-embroidered flowers, their centers made of beads in rose pink, honey orange and deep blue; a plum-colored gown adorned with a pearl-encrusted gold cross by the Paris jeweler Goossens, which is meant to be worn with a dark organza cape featuring chain detailing at the neckline; and boxy tweed jackets and tailored two-piece suits bedecked with eye-catching rhinestones. The moody but elegant pieces, which give off a sense of rebellious opulence — especially when worn by Ryder, whose strong eyebrows and shaggy brown hair brought a certain rock’n’roll energy to the clothes — are meant to pay homage to Karl Lagerfeld and the bevy of former debutantes he surrounded himself with in the ’70s.

“People stopped to look at what was going on,” Ms. Ryder says of the shoot. “It’s not every day that you get to see Chanel haute couture on the street.” It seems she will need to get used to the fanfare. Next up, Ms. Ryder will star in the film adaptation of the young adult novel “Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between”