Man Connected To Viral ‘Dress That Broke The Internet’ Charged With Trying To Murder His Wife

Published July 17, 2023

Keir Johnston's wife and mother-in-law set the Internet aflame when they got into a debate over the color of "The Dress" in 2015.

Keir Johnston And Grace Johnston

TheEllenShow/YouTubeKeir and Grace Johnston achieved viral fame after Grace and her mother got into a debate over the color of what became known as “The Dress.”

In 2015, a debate over whether a dress was black and blue or white and gold consumed all corners of the Internet. Now, Keir Johnston — a man connected to the viral garment — has been charged with trying to kill his wife.

According to The Guardian, Keir Johnston of Isle of Colonsay in Scotland is accused of perpetrating an 11-year torrent of domestic violence against his wife, Grace. Keir allegedly isolated Grace from her family, controlled her financially, and physically abused her.

The attempted murder charges stem from incidents that occurred between April 2019 and March 2022, during which Keir allegedly pushed Grace against a wall, shouted at her, tried to strangle her, and threatened her with a knife.

Keir has reportedly denied the allegations.

The Dress That Broke The Internet

The Dress That Broke The Internet

Caitlin McNeil/TumblrA fierce debate over the color of this dress raged in 2015, with some seeing it as black and blue and others as white and gold.

Before the news about these criminal charges broke, Keir Johnston was best known for his connection to the viral “Dress That Broke The Internet.” In 2015, as he and Grace were preparing for their wedding, Grace and her mother Cecilia got into a debate over a dress that her mother planned to wear to the ceremony. One said it was black and blue; the other said it was gold and white.

A wedding guest, Caitlin McNeill, decided to let the Internet decide. She posted an image of “The Dress” on Tumblr — and incited a wild debate over its coloring that consumed the web. According to PEOPLE, the image had more 14,000 views per second at its peak.

“We had been arguing about this for weeks,” Caitlin McNeill told Ellen DeGeneres when she, Keir, and Grace appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “It had been tearing the community apart. We were losing our minds.”

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Chrissy Teigen weighed in, and experts explained how and why people might see different colors. (The New York Post reports that when Grace’s mother wore the dress on The Ellen DeGeneres Show it did appear to be black and blue — not gold and white.)

The Domestic Abuse Allegations Against Keir Johnston

“The Dress” became such a viral phenomenon that it was used in campaigns across the globe — including, ironically, one to raise awareness of domestic abuse in South Africa.

Showing images of a bruised woman in a white and gold dress, the campaign read: “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in 6 women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.”

And indeed, the light-hearted viral moment seemed to have concealed domestic violence issues in Keir and Grace Johnston’s marriage. As The Guardian reports, Keir Johnston is accused of behavior like hitting his wife while she was sitting in her car and dragging her out of a pub in a headlock when she refused to leave with him.

Grace And Keir Johnston Wedding

Grace MacPhee/FacebookGrace and Keir Johnston at their wedding in 2015, which was allegedly followed by years of abuse.

As PEOPLE reports, Keir Johnston was indicted in the High Court in Glasgow on a charge of attempted murder. The case will continue with a further preliminary hearing before a trial in 2024.

After reading about how a man connected to the “Dress That Broke The Internet” is now accused of trying to murder his wife, go inside the surprisingly complex question of who invented the Internet. Or, see how the story of Slender Man went from a creepy Internet story to a real life murder.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "Man Connected To Viral ‘Dress That Broke The Internet’ Charged With Trying To Murder His Wife.", July 17, 2023, Accessed June 13, 2024.