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Man At Center of Viral Debate about "The Dress" Accused of Trying to Kill Wife

Keir Johnston and wife Grace McPhee were briefly internet stars, appearing on talk shows and more in 2015.

By Cydney Contreras

The couple at the heart of the viral #TheDress debate is back in the spotlight after the wife accused her husband of attempted murder in a Scottish High Court.

Keir Johnston and Grace MacPhee found themselves at the center of the media firestorm when they tied the knot in 2015. At their ceremony, the mother of the bride wore a dress that appeared to be different colors in photos, which wedding guest Caitlin McNeill posted to Tumblr. The picture set off a fiery debate amongst users, some of whom thought it was blue and black, while others thought it was white and gold. 

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The newlyweds even cut their honeymoon short to go on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and set the record straight, confirming the dress was actually black and blue. In exchange for their troubles, they were gifted $10,000 and a trip to Grenada, according to the Irish Examiner.

Since then, it's been alleged that Johnston assaulted MacPhee on multiple occasions through April 2019 to March 2022, The Daily Mail reported.

Johnston appeared in a Glasgow High Court for a criminal preliminary hearing on Monday, July 10, according to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals records. During the hearing, the Crown — the U.K. equivalent of a prosecutor — alleged that Johnston had repeatedly assaulted MacPhee, once striking her through the open window of a car and, on a separate occasion, dragging her out of a pub in headlock after she refused to leave with him, according to the Daily Mail

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It's further alleged by the Crown that Johnston threatened to kill MacPhee at their Isle of Colonsay home on March 6, 2022, when he pinned her to the ground and repeatedly choked her, before holding a knife against her throat, per the Daily Mail

Johnston is also accused of exerting coercive control over MacPhee by isolating her from friends and family, as well as limiting her financial freedom. 

Johnston denied all charges and is set to appear in court for another criminal hearing ahead of a trial, scheduled to begin in 2024. 

Coincidentally, the conversation around the dress inspired a Salvation Army campaign highlighting the signs of domestic violence. The ad shows a young woman wearing the dress covered in bruises, with the text, "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," according to NBC News

If you’re experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.