Having a master of vitality at the helm of a brand certainly helps, but Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line relies on more than the reality star’s ability to make headlines. Since its launch in 2019, Skims has masterfully grabbed the internet’s attention with talked-about campaigns featuring some of the biggest names in popular culture. Its ads are intelligent, provocative, and tap into the collective nostalgia for the early 2000s. Case in point: Skims’ new launch highlights the allure of Victoria’s Secret’s once omnipresent army of angels. Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Candice Swanepoel reunite for photographers Sandy Kim & Greg Wales’ slick images, and in a twist, Kardashian joins the party. 

As the first Black Angel and the creator of a groundbreaking reality television series, Banks was an ideal choice to appear in the ads. She is a supermodel, producer, author, and businesswoman who embodies the kind of multi-tasking ambition that typifies modern celebrity. Behind the scenes, she and fellow entrepreneur Kardaishian had plenty to discuss, including family, fame, and the advice they’ve received from their mothers. Here, Banks shares what the vibe was truly like on set, what it was like to return to lingerie modeling after years off, and why her latest venture may be her coolest yet. 

Banks joined the campaign after a heart-to-heart with Kardashian. 

Kim reached out to me, and we had a beautiful heart-to-heart conversation about the campaign. I’ve respected her business savvy for quite a while; after that call, my respect grew to an even greater level. Kim dropped words of wisdom from her mom that echoed sage advice my mom has shared with me over the years. I hadn’t modeled lingerie and undergarments in so long, but I said yes after speaking with Kim and hearing her thoughtful, loving, and instinctive words!

The supermodel was already a fan of shapewear—and Skims. 

Oh, yes, I am! I’m a fan of anything that helps women feel fierce and fabulous. I’ve used shapewear in many moments throughout my career, other times opting to go au naturel, but ultimately I believe the empowerment is in having the option. I admire Kim for bringing fashion to shapewear and making it so sexy and badass. 

You honestly can’t go wrong with the Fits Everybody Cami I wore in the campaign—I kept wearing it after the shoot and still do. They look great under a blazer. And the Crossover bralette I wore was so comfy. It doesn’t have an underwire, which is usually a must for me, but it still fits nicely. I wear it around the house for that support I need while lounging. 

Working on the shoot took Banks back to her days as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. 

I had a lot of firsts being an Angel. One being the first Black Angel and many more firsts. And then, after ten years, I retired my Angel wings and did my last catwalk in 2005. And that felt good. I was ready to move on to another chapter of my life and career. I was focused on producing and hosting television and earning respect for that new talent. But nostalgia is everything, and Kim recognized that. It’s not so easy to corral iconic groups of people to get back together again. Everyone’s so busy with life and travel and work and kids—we’re all mama’s now! Opportunities to collaborate in this way with iconic supermodel peers are rare, so to be able to team up for this project was the best of both worlds, lots of work and lots of play! It was truly special. 

Behind the scenes, Banks and her fellow VS alums reconnected over beignets. 

Kim’s studio is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever worked in. The earth-toned colors set such a chill and cozy vibe. Heidi and I shared a room to get ready. I love that woman. She’s pure effervescent happiness. Oh, and that body of hers is on fire! Still! And I kept stealing food from Heidi’s snack table because she ordered tastier things than I did. I was excited to work with Candice because I’d never worked on set with her before. Whoa, that gorgeous lady is the queen of the back arch. I’d pull a muscle if I tried to mock her back bending moves! Alessandra is frozen in time. She looks the same as when I retired. Actually, I believe she’s even more beautiful. 

There were two photo setups we all bounced back and forth between. The Skims team is a well-oiled machine; it was all super organized. And they even had a camera on a drone for some overhead shots!!! Then Christian Millan’s beignet truck showed up, and we all grubbed up on those tasty delights. Some of the models didn’t know what beignets were, so I had fun breaking down the whole New Orleans of it all for them. The next morn, my son had those beignets for breakfast! And you know Mama had to steal a bite!

Bank’s latest project? Gourmet ice cream. 

My start-up ice cream business, SMiZE Cream, takes up the majority of my time. The ice cream has a hidden yummy Surprize in every serving, so I’m not just dreaming up new flavors but concocting Surprize ideas, too. There’s a lot of international interest in the company, so we constantly travel to expand on those opportunities. And we’re working on launching vegan flavors and scoop shops. The face of the brand is a fictional character named DJ Splitz, a grandmother that’s a DJ! She’s inspired by my mom, who’s energy and vibe defies her age. My mama raised me never to stop dreaming, and SMiZE Cream is all about making people’s dreams come true. We are the ice cream company that inspires you to reach for more than just a spoon.

The best part of working on the Skims campaign? Collaborating with a fellow female entrepreneur. 

Kim has made her mark in the shapewear industry and hearing her talk about what makes her brand different is inspiring. I lectured for three years at Stanford’s Business School, and the first thing I would tell my students is, “Different is better than better.” With Skims, Kim is embodying that fully. I feel this when I see the products in the world, when I wear the products, how I see them position and market the products. It’s all different. And that’s what makes Skims extra special. I am so proud to collaborate with her and these Icons. Kim, thank you for that heart-to-heart call we had about this campaign. All I can say is, “You were right.”