Renee Mosbacher (née Brainin) was born in Vienna in 1929 to a Polish mother and Russian father. She had two older brothers. Her father was a furrier together with his brothers. Their shop, Gebrueder Brainin, was first located on Glockengasse before moving to the Bauernmarkt in the city. Her father died when Renee was two and her mother died when she was eight. After this, she was taken in by her father’s brother and his wife, who was her mother’s cousin. Her two brothers were taken in by another aunt and uncle. She started attended non-Jewish schools, but after the Anschluss, she attended the Chayes Gymnasium, a Jewish School. Her uncles were in London attending to the London branch of their business during the Anschluss and did not return to Austria. They organized to move the family over to England but this took nine months. The journey to England on 22 December 1938 was fraught with incidents and the family’s reunion with her uncles was very emotional.
In England the family lived in a pension in Paddington and she and her cousins attended a Church of England School. They were then sent to Westcliffe-on-Sea Boarding School until March 1940. They were very unhappy there and did not feel accepted. When her aunt and uncle obtained a house at 41 Kingsley Way, Hampstead Garden Suburb, they returned to London and attended the local school in Finchley Rd. Then at the age of eleven, she attended Clarks College in North Finchley. Renee was happy. She felt fully at home with her aunt and uncle, the school was very friendly and helpful, and although they lived through the London bombing, they were happy to be together as a family. The children did evacuate to Huddersfield for a short time during the flying bombs. The family attended Norris Lea Shul (Hampstead Garden Suburb synagogue) and were traditional. They kept the outward trappings of religion but not its inner depth.
After school Renee stayed at home for a year to learn housewifery and then went to Katinka School of dress designing. She took a job at an 'haute couture' firm in Upper Brook St and met her husband through an introduction.