Company: Warnaco"I'm the only woman who has ever done a hostile leveraged buyout," says Linda Wachner, still swaggering 21 years after acquiring apparel company Warnaco. Restructuring Warnaco and taking it public in 1991, Wachner became the second woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. (Katharine Graham was the first.) A series of crises - a venomous legal battle with designer Calvin Klein, an SEC probe, a Chapter 11 filing - led to her ouster in 2001.
Today Wachner is focused on restructuring herself. Handicapped by scoliosis since childhood, she hooked up with Alain Tomas, a Paris physical therapist who worked with Rudolf Nureyev. "He's turned my world around," says Wachner, who lives in Paris and New York City with her Yorkie, Amortization. Would she like to run a company again? "Yes, some sort of consumer products company. I'm a visionary, and I know it."