Kevin Tekinel and Charles Levai’s creative agency may be defining a new era of fashion branding

Looking at a cheeky ad for “Jacquemousse” or one short video for Versace in which a group of real-life cheerleaders perform stunts in uniforms from the Italian label, you probably won’t stop and wonder who created such clever concepts. You focus on storytelling. And for Kevin Tekinel and Charles Levai, that’s exactly the point. In the nearly three years since the close friends and creative directors launched their Paris-based agency Maybethe duo are quietly shaping the luxury brand landscape with memorable campaigns for some of the most esteemed fashion houses including The Row, Proenza Schouler, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Coperni, Miu Miu, Gucci and many more.

With such a wide range of clients, their approach to projects is never unique. “It’s still a huge collaboration,” says Tekinel. “I think what’s really important is accepting that we’re never necessarily doing it for ourselves. We’re doing it for the common purpose of helping a brand or helping a magazine or whatever.

Levai and Tekinel have worked closely together since they were creative directors at L’Uomo Vogue, but they came to the profession by different paths. Tekinel, who studied film at university, was inspired to turn to fashion after working as a production assistant on the set of The devil wears Prada. He would later become creative director of Giovanni Bianco’s Studio 65 in New York. During this time, Levai spent years working with Thomas Lenthal, the founding art director of System magazine.

Over their years of experience, they would develop a multi-disciplinary approach to branding which would prove very beneficial when Maybe debuted in 2019. “It was COVID and a lot of brands reached out to us because we had been able to create content for them without actually filming,” Tekinel says of their first year. “We were just using stock footage or creating 3D and animated content, so it was exciting to find new ways to produce non-shooting footage.”

A campaign for Proenza Schouler’s white label.

As for how they came up with the name of the agency, “It’s a word we use a lot when we’re planning a shoot or coming up with ideas,” says Levai. “And then we wondered Why we used it. It might be perceived as something indifferent, but we saw it as a word for possibility. We like the idea that anything is possible in the beginning and it’s never a no. It’s the start of a conversation.

In the past, Tekinel has described creative direction work as somewhat resembling what is portrayed in Mad Men-although Maybe is a lot, a lot smaller operation than Sterling Cooper. Yet, along with some of the world’s most famous luxury clients, Tekinel and Levai represent a new generation of creative executives driving the brand’s aesthetic of this decade. Here, just in time for Paris Couture Week which kicks off July 4, they share their guide to finding inspiration in the City of Light.

Food

If you’ve had enough of the French bistro vibe, try the new seafood restaurant The Queen’s Necklace (57 rue Charlot) in the Marais, with a New York air of the 90s.

Package (13 rue Chapon) offers incredible food and wine on a quiet street in the Marais.

The Cherche Midi (22 rue du Cherche Midi) is a Parisian institution between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Le Bon Marché with excellent Italian cuisine.

For a pleasant break during the hot days of June, we rely on Marie Gelateria for homemade ice cream.

boasted (19 rue de la Fontaine au Roi) is next to our office and our favorite spot for a quick and delicious lunch.

Drinks

If you are looking for the new La Perle or the new Saint-Gervais, try Francois’s house (35 Rue Saint-Sauveur) for casual drinks.

Night life

savages (58 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau) is a nice little club open until late.

The Colonia (18 rue de Beaujolais) is a hidden bar that requires a code to enter.

Galleries and Museums

We like to visit the Fitzpatrick Gallery (123 rue de Turenne) for the Louis Eisner show; the Untitled (2016) (33 rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin) for the show by 96-year-old Italian artist Ezio Gribaudo; Apartment-Atelier Le Corbusier (24 Rue Nungesser et Coli) where Le Corbusier lived (it was renovated and reopened a few years ago); Giacometti Institute (5 Rue Victor Schoelcher) where they recreated the Swiss sculptor’s studio and it’s really impressive; and our favorite museum in Paris, Bourdelle Museum (18 rue Antoine Bourdelle), which seems frozen in time.

Shop

Studio W (21 Rue du Pont aux Choux) offers a curated selection of vintage designer looks from the 70s and 80s for women.

Husbands (57 Rue de Richelieu) offers a great experience if you are looking for a bespoke suit.

Rustproof (2 Rue Gérando) offers a large selection of vintage clothing from the 1900s to the 1980s.

Hotel

Chateau Voltaire (55 Rue Saint-Roch) is ideal for bar drinks as well as dinner.

Escape

Saint-Ouen flea market is a great escape on a sunny day, with lunch next to Good adventure (59 Rue des Rosiers).