There is no denying that Annabelle Kajbaf is making strides in journalism, having written for the Associated Press, The Guardian, Glamour, Buzzfeed News and more. The French journalist has navigated the world and told its stories with tenacity and quick wit from her roots as a one-of-a-kind journalist from her work in Thailand to Los Angeles, California.
She has skillfully built herself as a trusted voice in the fashion industry for ten years by championing social impact and fashion.
As a creative entrepreneur, Kajbaf expanded her knowledge, keeping updated with current affairs while combining that with the years of experience she has gained. Recently, Kajbaf decided to step back into her broadcasting roots, which started in Tel Aviv with a new project called ‘Tell Me Mode’, a fashion history documentary highlighting fashion’s origins.
Great Social Club was able to sit down with the talented Annabelle Kajbaf and get her thoughts on the latest trends, projects, and her words of advice for the new generation of writers.
When I was 17 while majoring in philosophy at Victor Duruy, my Paris high school, one of our assignments was to travel to Krakow, Poland and visit a concentration camp. Each student would have to write a short essay and take pictures to explain how they felt and related to this unique experience of walking and visiting Auschwitz Birkenau.
I came across as more than surprised when I typed my name in the local computer and found out my ancestors were deported there. It is not something I knew about before the trip. On the way back to Paris, I wrote an essay that was later selected to be exhibited at the National Memorial Museum. On the exhibition’s opening day, Holocaust survivors thanked me and seemed very moved. From that moment on, I realized my words and writing could have an impact through inspiring readers and sharing knowledge. On that day, I decided to become a journalist.
My work at Buzzfeed News is my favourite. We covered pretty gruesome stories right after the 2015 Paris attacks. I bylined several stories covering the aftermath, from victims to trial.
I also liked writing an investigation piece at Koh Phangan island while living in Thailand for Brain magazine. These stories are shaped by the vision and definition of journalism: no risk, no reward. But always protect the sources and never put someone in harm’s way for the sake of a story. It is a fine line that I would like to see more in journalism nowadays.
I started looking for more fashion content online and realized no videos about fashion history existed. Organically, I started gathering knowledge and researching stories that made sense according to my upbringing and realized I wanted to create a video series about Fashion History. I begin with Denim and Marie-Antoinette to show how French fashion shaped the world of fashion and how we see it now.
I want to show that fashion can be accessible. I want to democratize knowledge. Fashion is a very hush-hush industry, and so is journalism. Most of the time, you have to know someone; I wish it were more inclusive. When I was studying journalism and fashion, it was back in the early 2000s, so we could not access all this online Instagram – YouTube content. I want to leave a legacy of proper content for the new curious generation of fashion makers and media shakers. That is the mission of Tell Me Mode.
It took much longer than I thought to prepare the first episode. I had to do a lot of research and find material I could use free of copyright. Also, it took me some time to create a solid team genuinely interested in media and fashion. As a journalist, I need a dedicated team around me, and it is kind of a nerdy voyage for me to find the right people, but I am getting there!
No matter what happens with technology, people enamoured by a creative discipline will always prefer a human touch. We saw it during the pandemic, and we will see it after the pandemic.
I am not a huge fan of AI in general because I like to think independently, and as a journalist, it is a critical thing to do. It might be great to organize news wires, for example. Still, it is also always important to remember that humans programmed AI and that humans will permanently taint objectivity, even those who are programmers.
Anyway, I am getting pretty political, but I am pretty much against AI. For sustainable and independent fashion, we should get as close as possible to human touch, in-person conversations and IRL interviews.
Emotion is vital in the media and fashion industries; a computer cannot translate them. That, I am convinced. Quality will always prevail over quantity, in my opinion.
Capes, trains and anything mesmerizing is a trend right now. When you wear a memorable piece, you put your shoes into a character. It is like playing Prada Marvel in some way! The comeback of sci-fi movies has also brought a quite “moviesque” look to some of the runways, with crazy accessories, from 3D printed bags to crazy hats… I am in love with all this creativity.
In France, journalism is the “fifth” pillar of democracy. Critical thinking is crucial for people to form their opinions. It is the most important thing we can do as journalists. When you silence that voice, you silence free thinking. But, it is not only bad news. I also hope that some journalists will unite and create their own media, such as Vice ex-reporters who just launched their platform.
The energy is still here and might turn out for the best, with decentralized and independent online publications, but it can also be a risk to scatter the audience. The most rewarding journalism is the one that considers all kinds of opinions while narrating a whole story, not afraid of paid sponsorship or who owns the newspaper/TV Channel they are working for. The definition of marketing vs. journalism has to be redefined nowadays.
Never stop reading, never stop listening. Be kind to those who need your help and learn from those who do it better than you.
I have just directed my first fashion film for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam about Fashion Week and a feature interview in Marie Claire. I will expose how my NYFW went and explain why fashion constantly changes. I recently got named as an ambassador for Australia’s Eco Fashion Week. We live in a fast-paced society that inspires us to always do better, and that is an opportunity for anyone who wants to make a change.
Follow Annabelle for more updates on: www.annabellekajbaf.com
VIETNAM / ASIA
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