Somehow, Sephora has been dragged into the crosshair of the nationwide college admissions scandal that has already led to the arrests of more than 50 people.
Olivia Jade Giannulli, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly gained admission to the University of Southern California after her parents paid Rick Singer $500,000 to forge documents stating that she was a competitive rower. She, as well as her older sister Isabella, were reportedly “recruited” to the prestigious university via the crew team, despite never having participated in the sport.
While social media was alight with criticisms of Loughlin as well as the other wealthy CEOs and business persons indicted in the scandal (including Felicity Huffman), now 19-year-old Olivia Jade — an influencer with more than 1.3 million Instagram followers and almost 2 million subscribers on her YouTube channel — has become a target, specifically regarding her collaboration with Sephora.
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Olivia Jade is both a paid influencer and collaborator with the brand. In December, she launched the Olivia Jade x Sephora Collection Bronze & Illuminate palette, $28, which is currently listed as “Out of Stock” on Sephora’s website. “This has been such a dream of mine and without all of you, it could have never happened,” she wrote in the description. “I hope to see all of you glowing to the Gods.”
Many of Olivia’s YouTube videos discuss her college life at USC (including one titled, “GRWM for my FIRST College Party…”), leading some to make the leap that she was directly profiting from her enrollment in the school — though the lines are admittedly blurred, since most of her following was established when she was still in high school. She launched her channel in 2015.
The influencer’s Instagram reveals paid sponsorships with other brands as well, including beauty brand Love Philosophy and clothing brands Boohoo and Windsor. However it’s her collaboration with Sephora that’s drawn the most heat since the scandal broke. The reviews section for her palette have been flooded with sarcastic jabs at the scam and calls for Sephora to cut all ties.
“Highlight did not deliver on privilege,” wrote one commenter. “This palette has such an intense highlight I thought it would blind others to my privilege and toxicity. Unfortunately, it did not work and instead left me dusty AF.”
On social media, too, customers called for the company to dissociate, with some threatening boycott.
Sephora did not immediately return InStyle‘s request for comment regarding the status of the collaboration.
Though none of the children of the more than 30 parents arrested in the nationwide college admissions scandal have been formally charged — a deliberate move by the prosecutor, who said their parents were the responsible parties — it remains to be seen if the universities will take action.
Olivia, who once apologized on her channel for saying she doesn’t “really care about school,” may have long-term professional ramifications. “Brands spend millions of dollars building up and defending their brand name, and understand that the wrong sponsorship can undo all of their hard work,” Eric Dahan, CEO of Open Influence, told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. “Typically, having a criminal record or any negative press makes an influencer radioactive in the eyes of an advertiser.”
It has yet to come to light if the names of the children of the other parents involved in the scandal will be released, or if they will face the same ridicule as Olivia. Though her Instagram and channel are still live, she has yet to post new content. Her older sister, Bella, turned her Instagram account to private.