Remembering Mia Forsgren, The Style Council’s Unforgettable Storyteller

Robert Lussier Reflects on the Life, Creative Legacy, and Impact of his Partner and Their Industry-Defining Collaboration

By Mark Wittmer

One of the fashion industry’s most influential creative agencies – particularly in the way we think about emotional storytelling at the heart of luxury narrative – The Style Council was founded in 2014 by Mia Forsgren and Robert Lussier. While you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been moved by one of their ad campaigns, those within the industry who had the fortune of working with Robert and Mia remember even more strikingly the pair’s creative synergy, passion, and kindness.

We were thus shocked and inexpressibly saddened when, earlier this month, the sudden news came of Mia’s passing after a private battle with cancer. 

In the weeks after, Robert generously took the time to catch up with The Impression and reflect on the creativity, collaboration, and kindness that shaped their journey together and made their partnership a defining force within the fashion industry.

The pair first met in New York when Robert was working at Trey Laird’s agency Laird & Partners in what would prove to be an unforgettable coming together of personalities and creative perspectives.

Trey insisted I needed help so I interviewed Mia for three hours – and we have never been apart for over 20 years. I have a clear vision of our first meeting; I showed her the Juicy Couture campaign concept mood boards I was working on, and we both sat on the floor in my office and she helped me make collages! She would soon become the Yin to my Yang.”

If there’s a formula for the perfect collaboration we would love to know it, but as Robert and Mia proved, the secret to an ideal creative partnership will probably remain just that – a secret. Their career experiences meant they each already had a wealth of unique professional and creative insight to draw on – Mia had worked directly with some of the pair’s future clients during her years at Lloyd&Co. and Lipman agencies – but their connection went beyond that, so much so that it felt almost supernatural.

“When you meet that person in life, I truly believe its fate, they balance you and make a whole unit. Together we could accomplish anything.”

Playfully extending that idea of their collaborative harmony of nothing short of a cosmic alignment, Robert adds, “There has never been, nor will there ever be, a more dynamic duo than a Gemini and a Sag!  Mia the Gemini and me the Sagittarius – opposite sides in astrology, both of us shared a hunger for soaking up life experiences. And boy did we ever!” The two were so in sync that photographer, friend, and frequent collaborator Tim Walker would fondly refer to them collectively as the “Think Tank.” 

As they began to work together, their unique knack for emotional storytelling through imaginative imagery that can only be described as beautiful caught the attention of some of the biggest names in Paris. Tapped by Bernard Arnault as the first Artistic Director of Parfums Christian Dior, Robert headed to Paris, and was soon joined by Mia to build the internal creative studio with a team of more than 30. The first campaign they created was Miss Dior by Sofia Coppola and Tim Walker. “They called us the ‘Americans in Paris,’” reflects Robert. “Through this filter we celebrated the beauty of the city we would both fall in love with and eventually call home.”

The list is long, but some of the iconic campaigns Mia and Robert created for the houses of LVMH include Louis Vuitton’s “Spirit of Travel” campaign by Peter Lindbergh and the Lady Dior handbag series starring Marion Cotillard. The duo also reached out to David Lynch directly and asked him to direct their first film in Shanghai – “an incredible experience.”

That impressive roster of collaborators comes from a commitment to always “push to work with the best talent – and music, which we are both so passionate about, such as Depeche Mode in the Dior Secret Garden series shot in Versailles, by Inez and Vinoodh, which was another campaign close to our heart. Then Rihanna by Steven Kein to all the incredible makeup campaigns for Dior by Steven Miesel and David Sims…”

With this strong background of ten years working in beauty, fragrance, and leather goods under their belt, Mia and Robert wanted to push their creative limits further and add new brands to their portfolio, and this momentum led them to found The Style Council in 2014. Their first campaign in this new incarnation was for Loewe fragrances, followed by Gucci, Michael Kors, Graff in partnership with longtime collaborator Mikael Jansson, and many more. The last campaign Mia and Robert worked on together was for Louis Vuitton, starring Zendaya and shot by Mert & Marcus – another fond memory in a long list of unforgettable creative moments. “We always pushed a visual narrative, through the combination of storytelling and emotion,” says Robert about the creative principles that anchored their influential vision across this broad range of projects.

Mia and I were always, from the beginning, very hands on. We liked to be in full control of our narrative, from creative concept to editing and post production. Our goal while working with our teams was also to train them to be the best creative, how to be fast, better, and to win. Over the last decades Mia implemented this work ethic into everyone we worked with. Through passion, strength and kindness (sometimes!), you can achieve everything.”

In addition to being close creative collaborators who brought that spirit of excitement and ambition to everything they touched professionally, Mia and Robert were also best friends, and it’s impossible to get a full sense of what Mia’s legacy means without hearing the palpable depth of affection with which he considered their friendship. “Not only were we business partners but bffs,” explains Robert, “we even traveled together with our partners Tim and Kirk and our troop of dogs! Mia loved the sea. She grew up in a small summer cottage off the coast of Sweden, raised by her grandfather, aunt, and uncle. Every year we would go on holiday together – escaping to St. Barth, Greece, or the south of France – Mia always needed to be by water… I think she found peace and tranquility there…and always with her Cairn Terriers by her side, Elsa and new puppy Stella.” We got to see many beautiful stories told by The Style Council, but perhaps the most beautiful is the friendship at its core. 

The Style Council will continue with Robert in the lead from Paris, where his studio is currently led by Tawes Yebda, another essential member of the team trained by Mia who has been working with the pair since their first Dior days in Paris.

While Mia may be gone in physical presence, her legacy of kindness and creativity continues to resonate. The Style Council will carry forward the same creative path that Robert and Mia forged together all those years ago – or, as he warmly puts it,

The creative duo known as Robert and Mia will continue in spirit to leave a mark.”