The Curse of The Dress That Broke The Internet: How outfit that became online sensation left tragedy in its wa – Daily Mail

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In 2015 a simple photo of a wedding dress became one of the biggest Internet sensations of all time – catapulting the bride and groom into the global spotlight. 

The seemingly humdrum snap had an incredible visual quirk – some saw the dress as black and blue while others saw it as white and gold – and before long the couple, Keir and Grace Johnston, were invited onto talk shows around the world. 

Their relationship would end in the most horrific of circumstances, with Keir Johnston jailed for four years today for assaulting his wife.

While they pale in comparison to the shocking attack in March 2022, the so-called ‘Dress That Broke The Internet’ has been linked to several other negative headlines – from a family fallout to a controversial charity campaign. 

The court case that ended today heard how Johnston, 39, violently assaulted his wife at their isolated home on the Isle of Colonsay, Inner Hebrides.  

Keir Johnston (right) pinned Grace Johnston (left) to the floor and brandished a knife. Pictured on the left is Mrs Johnson's mother, Cecilia Bleasdale, wearing the dress and a matching jacket

She desperately sent messages to friends begging for help because she knew it would take police too long to reach them, before eventually dialling 999 and yelling down the phone: ‘My husband is trying to kill me.’ 

Johnston, a petrol station attendant, pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting his wife and was jailed for four-and-a-half years. 

It was a horrifying end to a story that initially saw them being whisked around the world due to their brief global fame for being the couple responsible for The Dress That Broke The Internet.

They appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in the US, where they were handed $10,000 (£8,000) and a luxury trip to Grenada.

The photograph that started the internet storm was taken by the bride’s mother Cecilia Bleasdale while she was out shopping with her partner, Paul Jinks. 

Their relationship would end in the most horrific of circumstances, with Keir Johnston jailed for four years today for assaulting his wife

Ms Bleasdale sent the picture of the frock to her daughter to ask the bride-to-be what she thought. Grace, in turn, shared it with her then-fiance, Keir Johnston.

The couple disagreed over the colours of the dress, so Grace sought more opinions online by posting it on Facebook – the first step on its road to becoming a global phenomenon.

When the photo went viral, there was no mention of Ms Bleasdale or Mr Jinks, leading the couple to complain to the BBC that they felt ‘completely left out from the story’ and ‘had no control’. 

They even hired a solicitor and are considered taking legal action to protect their copyright in the picture.

Celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift also shared it. The couple went on to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Ms Bleasdale later admitted she and her daughter had a ‘falling out’ over the dress and now ‘just don’t talk about it’.

The dress hit the headlines again when it was featured in a domestic violence campaign by The Salvation Army, which was criticised in some quarters for using the ‘tasteless’ slogan ‘Why is it so hard to see black and blue?’

One user posted on X: ‘There is just something absolutely stomach-churning about covering a beautiful woman in fake blood & bruises for ‘awareness’.

‘Like, a beautiful woman just lounging there, apparently not afraid or in pain. She makes violence against women look sexy, and that’s gross.’ 

Jailing Johnston today, Judge Lady Drummond told him of the terrible consequences of his abuse. 

The Salvation Army was blasted for using it in a campaign about violence against women

Photo by Roman Originals of the two-tone dress that has sparked a global debate

Photo by Roman Originals of the two-tone dress that has sparked a global debate

She said: ‘The impact of your actions will last forever. She cannot understand your lack of remorse or empathy towards her.

‘I have taken account of all the information and considered the submission that the court can deal with this with a community disposal.

‘I am afraid the only appropriate sentence for a crime such as this is imprisonment.’

A 10-year harassment order was also granted restricting Johnston’s contact with Grace.

Prosecutor Chris Macintosh told how it was accepted Grace had suffered previous domestic violence – including her husband trying to strangle her – before the attack in 2022.

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