Style guru and urban design specialist Wayne Hemingway added a touch of glamour and gritty realism to a debate on the future of Leeds city centre.
The entrepreneur behind iconic clothing label Red or Dead offered a healthy dollop of constructive criticism, condemning the city's new buildings for being "indistinguishable" from each other and highlighting the importance of creating a place where anyone, of any age, could enjoy living.
His provocative talk at the City Centre Vision Conference followed speeches by guests including architect Sir Terry Farrell, who designed The Deep in Hull; Gary Lawrence, global director for sustainability for design and business consulting firm Arup; Leeds City Council leader Andrew Carter, director of city development Jean Dent and the city's Youth Council.
Around 330 invited delegates from the private, public and voluntary sectors packed into Leeds Town Hall to hear the experts' views and have their say on the future of the city in 2020 and beyond.
Wayne said: "I love cities but I also love bringing up kids in cities.
"They can't be one-dimensional – they've got to be inclusive.
"In Edinburgh and London you can bring up kids.
"Lots of European cities the size of Leeds are cradle to the grave.
"Like a lot of British cities, Leeds city centre is not a place you could happily live all your life."
He added: "A city might have iconic buildings but what I want is iconic pavements and iconic cycle routes.
"Human beings don't walk around looking up in the air – they go round looking at a space 3ft around them.
"Everything around you has to be great."
He suggested the council should demand better standards from developers and ban them from working in the city if they failed to deliver; remove street furniture like railings blocking views of beautiful buildings;celebrate independent businesses rather than becoming a clone city and take inspiration from cities like Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam.
And he called on the city's bright young things to step forward and offer their views to the authority to give a different perspective on plans and decisions.
The other speakers discussed everything from the importance of trees and making the city centre more pedestrian friendly, to creating more impressive gateways to the city, the need for a clear vision and the importance of creating a unique selling point.
Coun Carter said he was already planning to act on problems highlighted by Wayne.
He said council officers would be looking at ways to de-clutter pavements and remove railings obscuring views, and he could "take it as read" they would be showing undesirable developers the door in future.
The conference was devised by Jean Dent, and sponsored by global businesses with offices in Leeds city centre; Arup, Aedas, Drivers Jonas, Isis and Pinsent Masons.