Tyra Banks Feels 'Empowered' by Karen Millen Campaign: 'Rare to Have Clothes Fit Me Like This' (Exclusive)

Banks is the latest model to star in the clothing brand's ICONS campaign

<p>Laretta Houston / Karen Millen</p>

Laretta Houston / Karen Millen

With decades of modeling experience, Tyra Banks knows what looks and feels good — and she won't settle for less.

As the latest supermodel to front designer Karen Millen's ICONS campaign, the model-turned-entrepreneur opened up to PEOPLE about finding clothes that make her feel good.

"I don't have the body I used to have when I was on runways, and so to have these clothes fit me like this ... it's rare to have a tailored piece look good on curves," Banks, 49, tells PEOPLE exclusively on the set of her shoot for the campaign.

She adds, "I feel empowered. Sometimes I'll go to a photo shoot and I'll be like, 'This stuff ain't going fit me. It ain't going to fit right.' I'm going to have to do all these tricks and stuff. But I feel proud to have these clothes and that they look so good."

<p>Laretta Houston / Karen Millen</p>

Laretta Houston / Karen Millen

When Karen Millen approached the America's Next Top Model creator about the campaign, she was touched to stand alongside Paulina Porizkova and Helena Christensen, who were also previously featured.

Related: '90s Models: Where Are They Now?

"I was actually very flattered and touched and honored because Helena Christensen was everything for me. She's my generation and we were on the same runways, but she was a little bit ... ahead of me," she says. "To now be called an icon with her touches my 18-year-old self very deeply."

The capsule collection features Banks' favorite fashion trends that celebrate ageless women who are unapologetically themselves, regardless of their age, size or style.

Her personal favorites from the collection, she says, are the "trench-ish" coats and the "olive-colored evening gown" that "looks like couture."

Banks' iconic modeling career dates back over three decades, and though she was the face of countless "firsts" (including the first Black woman to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue solo, and then two decades later, at 45, the oldest woman (until then) to do so), she remembers the roadblocks she encountered just as much as the barriers she broke.

"Modeling and having to be in so many different places, and hearing you can't do something every single day of my life because of my skin color [was stressful]," she recalls of the challenges. "Then after I got through some of that hearing, 'Oh, you're curvy and you can't do this fashion show anymore, and you can't do that.' It was very difficult."

Related: Tyra Banks' Most Inspiring Body-Positive Quotes

<p>Laretta Houston / Karen Millen</p>

Laretta Houston / Karen Millen

But it was all in service of one very noble goal: "I wanted to be the last 'the first,'" she says. "I want diversity to be boring. It should be."

Now an entrepreneur (launching ice cream business SMIZE & Dream, among other plans) and a parent (to son York,) Banks only takes a modeling job when it feels right.

"I do a modeling job probably once a year, and I sit in that chair and I say, 'God dang, this is easy. What the hell was I thinking back then?' Because now I'm in strategy sessions!" Banks says, laughing.

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