Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Kors, Tiffany Haddish

Your fall formalwear is going to join your summer dresses and spring gowns on the bench. After much of the spring season was rapidly canceled — or postponed to the fall, back when we were all still in denial over the longevity of the pandemic — the reality of the upcoming fall social season is beginning to take shape (well, sort of).

Some of the season’s most anticipated events — most of the performing arts fund-raisers, for instance — are off the schedule for the rest of the year, without a fall performance season to account for. Many of the more social causes have committed to virtual benefits. First up is the Kips Bay President’s Dinner on Sept. 10, which the team says is “practically sold out.” The evening will feature video messages from Misty Copeland and Lin-Manuel Miranda and will honor interior decorator John Rosselli; pre-event cocktail hour will happen in the form of individual breakout rooms, so each “table” can have a chance to mingle. The Restoration Hardware table, for instance, will be chatting over a bottle of wine from RH’s wine cellar at Yountville in the Napa Valley, which will be sent to each table guest.

Also on the online social schedule is Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, which will host a party (Questlove is DJ’ing) and benefit auction with a bevy of artists slated to “attend” on Sept. 21; the BCRF will host a virtual symposium and luncheon on Oct. 16, following the success of their virtual hot pink party in May that raised $5.2 million (not bad considering last year’s IRL event raised $6 million).

The New York Academy of Art is also pivoting to digital for its fall fund-raiser auction, re-branding it from “Take Home a Nude” to “Artists for Artists.” Works by artists like Jeff Koons, Kiki Smith, Lola Schnabel, Shepard Fairey, Laurie Simmons, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin will be exhibited at the Academy for a month — visitors can stop by for a socially distanced viewing — and auctioned through Artsy. NYAA will also host a livestreamed event on Oct. 20 with a live auction component.

Shepard Fairey work donated for NYAA's "Artists for Artists" auction.

Shepard Fairey work donated for NYAA’s “Artists for Artists” auction.  Courtesy

October (usually) culminates with Hulaween, New York Restoration Project founder’s Bette Midler’s Halloween costume benefit gala. Plans for this year are still in the works, but it will include a virtual event on Oct. 30 as well as “pre-Halloween treats and entertainment.” “Hulaween could not come at a better time as there is a renewed need for funding to support NYRP’s 52 parks and gardens,” says Erica Helms, chief advancement officer for NYRP. “All of which provide green space for historically underserved communities to grow their own food, connect with neighbors, and access safe, open space close to home — during the COVID era and always!”

Hopeful in-person events include the New York Botanical Gardens, which are uniquely well-positioned given, you know, it’s an outdoor garden. Their “Fall in Love With the Garden Again” fall party, honoring Hearst director Gilbert C. Maurer, is planned for early October, and still set for in-person. The Golden Heart Awards, which benefit God’s Love We Deliver, have shifted back from their usual October date to early December, on World AIDS Day, with both a virtual option and a plan for in-person, if such is allowed in New York by then. If virtual, the committee will send a care package to guests’ homes to re-create the usual dinner gala as best they can.

As for the season’s other hallmark charity events — The Central Park Ladies Luncheon, American Natural History Museum gala packed with SNL personalities, the MAD Ball, MoMA’s Chanel-supported film benefit — no word yet on whether they will sit the season out altogether.

Although Broadway remains dark until at least early next year, the industry will gather belatedly — virtually, that is — to honor talent from the shortened season. The Tony Awards, typically held in June, will take place this fall on a date still to be revealed. Eligible shows to be nominated include “Slave Play,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “The Inheritance.” The IFP Gotham Awards, which honor independent filmmaking, were originally scheduled to take place at Cipriani Wall Street on Nov. 20 but have been postponed until January.

On the film front, the New York Film Festival will play on. The festival runs Sept. 17 through Oct. 11, with films screening virtually and at drive-in theaters at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and New York Hall of Science in Queens. The opening night film is Steve McQueen’s “Lovers Rock,” with other anticipated premieres to follow, including Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” and “French Exit.”

Cinema Society’s Andrew Saffir, who has been hosting socially distanced outdoor screenings in the Hamptons all summer, is optimistic that events will slowly but surely start to take place this fall. “I do think it will take some time before people are comfortable in a crowded theater (and we’re still waiting for theaters in New York City to open back up), but I do think there’s an opportunity to do something along the lines of what we’ve been doing this summer — smaller screening events, where everyone is spaced safely apart, in nontraditional spaces acting as theaters, and with invitees we know have been careful,” Saffir says.

The season won’t be going on with its usual warm-weather bang, since Art Basel Miami Beach has officially been canceled as of this week. In the meantime, we’ll see you online.

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