Keir Johnston was behind *that* viral dress. He's now admitted to strangling his wife.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of domestic violence that may be distressing to some readers.

One of the most viral internet moments of all time has taken a deeply disturbing turn.

In 2015, #TheDress took over the world, with the debate over what colour it was—gold or blue—dividing the population.

On July 14, 2023, The Times reported that Keir Johnston, 38, the Scottish man whose wedding the dress was purchased for, was charged by Glasgow's High Court for the attempted murder of his wife, Grace Johnston.

He was alleged to have conducted a decades-long string of serious domestic and coercive control, including repeated assaults, according to The Guardian. He was facing charges relating to incidents between April 2019 and March 2022.

Now, he has pleaded guilty to attacking his wife. 

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According to court documents sighted by People, Keir pinned his wife to the ground and sat atop her in an assault on March 6, 2022, placing his hands around her throat, impeding her breathing. The People report continues that he threatened her life while wielding a knife. 

Keir was supposed to stand trial, but changed his plea, confessing to assaulting his wife, causing her injury and endangering her life. 

According to UK outlets such as The Telegraph and The Times, the court heard that Keir said, "Somebody is going to die", and when his wife Grace called authorities, she said, "My husband is trying to kill me". Given the remoteness of their home in Scotland's Inner Hebrides, the prosecutor for the crown, Chris Macintosh, told the court that Grace had felt "trapped". 


The dress in question. Image: Tumblr

The attack occurred after Grace went against Keir's wishes by attending a job interview on the mainland. Keir then threatened to leave her, and the altercation turned violent.


“I have no need to tell you that this is a serious and violent offense," the judge told Keir per People, adding: "You repeatedly strangled her, injured her and put her life in danger in what must have been absolutely terrifying circumstances for her."

“I am afraid, Mr Johnston, that your status has now changed, you have been convicted of a very serious crime and you will be remanded meantime.”

Keir first found international fame seven years ago, after a photo of his mother-in-law's dress for their wedding was uploaded to Tumblr by another guest. They, like everyone, were confused about the colour of the dress.

Soon, the world was divided into two very distinct groups: those who saw white and gold, and those who saw blue and black.

Within days, Keir and Grace were doing the media rounds—including appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In a very eerie coincidence, the dress was used as part of a 2015 domestic violence awareness campaign in South Africa.

"Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women," the ad read, alongside an image of a woman in the dress with a bruised face.


Keir will be sentenced on June 6.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

This story was originally published on July 17, 2023, and has since been updated with new information.

Feature image: The Ellen Show.