An Italian court on Wednesday sentenced fashion design duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to one year and eight months in prison for hiding hundreds of millions of euros from the tax authorities.

The designers, who are nearly as famous as the stars they dress, were not present and have denied the charges. Given the complexity and length of the appeals process, they are unlikely to spend any time in jail.

A company spokesman could not be reached for immediate comment.

The success of Dolce and Gabbana's sexy corset dresses and sharply-tailored suits favoured by celebrities like Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and Bryan Ferry have earned them a glamorous lifestyle.

The case dates back to an investigation that began in 2008, when authorities unleashed a tax avoidance crackdown as the financial crisis began to bite. But the probe that ensnared the two designers is one of the few high-profile cases to come to trial so far.

The judge on Wednesday ruled that the pair sold their brand to Luxembourg-based holding company Gado in 2004 to avoid declaring taxes on royalties of about 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion). ($1 = 0.7467 euros)