The cholas of the Andes are not the only women to demonstrate that the bowler hat can easily cross gender as well as social boundaries. The bowler has always looked good on women, perhaps because it is at once evocative of the Victorian male world and yet round and small enough, like the boater, to be easily adaptable to the female physique (remember Sabina's bowler hat in The Unbearable Lightness of Being?).
The bowler helped free European and American women from the constraints of their own fashions (crinolines, bustles) without making them feel like parody males in the process. The bowler, or DERBY, never did play a major role in female dress-as did trousers and sports jackets for example-but its occasional appearance is suggestive.