It's nice to have some conversation back in this thread again, even though half of it is about another game
Disclaimer: opinions ahead
I definitely agree that KC has some oddball and cheesy designs especially during its infancy (looking at those alien looking ships by a certain artist).
But I feel like in general, for something that I can't quite put my finger on, KC's shipgirls just appear more fitting for warships weighing thousands of tons from the previous century.
Could be that KC's character designs on average tend to be more reserved and mature, while AL's tend to be more extravagant and petite in terms of body proportion; or the fact that KC loosely adheres to certain standards such as displacement/class correlating to age and height of the shipgirls, whereas in AL you have the loli Nagato mentioned above.
Finally, as probably already mentioned, it's hard not to appreciate the attention to details in KC's designs, whether it's extremely detailed equipment that most people can't even see without zooming in, the accessories wore by certain shipgirls, or historically accurate camouflage or damage shown in some damaged art. That being said I haven't looked that closely at AL shipgirls so if AL has something similar feel free to post here.
That or I am just biased because KC came first and I haven't bothered to play AL..