The veteran German creator turned the Grand Palais into a forest, with tonnes of dead leaves strewn on mirrored steps and nine tall mossy trees planted down the middle of its vast nave.
Trees had also been chopped down for the rows of benches for his guests, including Hollywood star Keira Knightley, British pop singer Lily Allen and former French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy.
The France Nature Environment group later condemned the show as "heresy", accusing the luxury brand of trying to "give itself a more green image which is completely divorced from the reality of protecting nature."
It said that whatever point Chanel was trying to prove with the show "had failed. Nature is not chopping down trees in a forest, putting them up for a few hours for a show and then throwing them into a skip."
The brand -- whose PVC-themed collection last year raised eyebrows at a time when plastic pollution is hitting the headlines -- should be "setting an example", the group said in a statement.
Huge life-like forest
Fashion critics, however, had praised the set, with Harper's Bazaar declaring that the "runway may be (Lagerfeld's) best yet". It loved the "life-like forest" he conjured up that "seemed to extend infinitely".
The 84-year-old creator had sent out a dark and classy collection Tuesday that eschewed the bubblegum girliness of Chanel's haute couture show in January.
The few pinks and electric blues he allowed to seep into the show were confined to handbags and the very Audrey Hepburn leather opera gloves worn with a series of black lace slip dresses.
The final Lagerfeld touch was that the gloves, like his own, were fingerless.
With his controversial wispy beard that so divided opinion at January's fuller now, the "Kaiser" took one of the briefest bows of his career after the show, allowing photographers little chance to check its progress.
Some critics had then found it shockingly "scruffy" for the world's pre-eminent style guru, who had not changed his look in two decades.
Lagerfeld began the show with a run of full-length black coats matched with sparkling gold tights, one coat feathered at the shoulders and cuffs which gave it more than a hint of French Empire dash.
Earthy, autumnal colours dominated, lit up with the glint of embroidered crystals and glitter, as he ran through the gamut of Chanel's classic tweedy looks -- city slickers bringing a touch of ever-so-tasteful glamour to the horsey country set.
The whole top of one particularly striking coat with burnt orange velvet collars and cuffs was covered in a fall of delicate applique dark green and burnished gold leaves.
This was not the gold of the nouveau riche but the distressed sheen of old money.
The veteran picked up and ran with its mottled glow in a line of darkly burnished gold and copper boots, suits and skirts.
Front-row stars including French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis drooled over Lagerfeld's new big bags and accessories. They included a "log" handbag so close to the real thing you might risk losing it in the woods.
Chanel's trademark long, pearl necklaces also made a reappearance, with former supermodel Cindy Crawford's 16-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber wearing earrings featuring the brand's double C logo.
South Korean star Hoyeon Jung and British model activist Adwoa Aboah also walked in the 80-look show.